Munster wear down Southern Kings but Chris Farrell limps off
Johann van Graan’s side pull away from South Africans after the break in Cork
Darren O’Shea celebrates a Munster score against the Southern Kings. Photograph: LaszloGeczo/Inpho
Munster 43 Southern Kings 0
It all ended happily for Munster as they secured their 11th victory of the Pro14 campaign at the expense of South African side Southern Kings before a capacity attendance of 8,000 at Musgrave Park on Friday night.
A knee injury for Chris Farrell after 18 minutes was a big blow for Munster, and in the heart of the Six Nations it could be a significant moment for Joe Schmidt’s Ireland. Jean Kelyn also limped off after he scored Munster’s sixth try and they finished the game with 14 players.
The respective positions, Munster at the head of Conference A and Kings at the bottom of Conference B, told in the end but it wasn’t always plain sailing for the Munster men on a night when they failed to hit the peak of their form.
This bonus-point victory gives Munster a further edge at the top of the table and defeat for Kings leaves them in an impossible situation following the first of three consecutive games in the northern hemisphere.
Munster struggled to impose themselves on the visitors in the opening half, and that was mainly down to their own failings. Having survived a nervous opening, Munster dominated territory and possession, and they forced Southern Kings to concede a succession of penalties.
Munster dominated at scrum time but unfortunately gave back possession too easily, a litany of handling errors causing frustration, and with 30 minutes gone they only had one try to show for their efforts.
It changed though when Italian referee Andrea Piardi lost patience with the South Africans for conceding all those penalties, and they were reduced to 14 for ten minutes, number eight Ruaan Lerm shown a yellow.
Neil Cronin had given Munster a 14th minute try that Rory Scannell converted, but the centre struck an upright when he attempted to add another conversion to Andrew Conway’s 38th minute try. It was a better reflection on Munster’s superiority but the visitors were still in touch at the interval.
Finally, Munster got their act together in the second half when Darren Sweetnam chased a chip through and scored a try that Scannell converted to push the lead out to 19 points.
The home side secured the bonus point with a fourth try in the 60th minute from the impressive Billy Holland, while Southern Kings were denied a try from replacment Sarel Pretorius who was deemed to have knocked on before racing away for what seemed to be their opening score.
As the benches from both teams were emptied, Munster remained in full control and Rhys Marshall got Munster’s fifth try with 12 minutes remaining and Scannell converted. Jean Kleyn then drove over for Munster’s sixth as the home side eased to a comprehensive victory against an increasingly ragged Kings defence.
That defence wilted again on the stroke of full time when Scannell got in for the seventh try and he kicked the conversion himself to complete what was generally a satisfactory evening’s work.
Scorers - Munster: N Cronin, A Conway, D Sweetnam, B Holland, R Marshall, J Kleyn, R Scannell tries; R Scannell 4 cons
MUNSTER: M Haley; A Conway, C Farrell, R Scannell, D Sweetnam; T Bleyendaal (captain), N Cronin; J Loughman, N Scannell, J Ryan; J Kleyn, B. Holland; F Wycherly, C Cloete, A Botha. Replacements. D Goggin for Farrell (16, inj), A Mathewson for Cronin (49), L O’Connor for Loughman (59), R Marshall for N Scannell (61), S Archer for Ryan (61), D O’Shea for Holland (61), JJ Hanrahan for Bleyendaal (65), G Coombes for Botha (67).
SOUTHERN KINGS: M Banda; Y Penxe, M Rokoua, B Klaasen, B Basson; B Pretorius, S Ungerer; S Ferreira, M Willemse, De-Jay Terblanche; A Van Schalkwyk, J C Astle (captain); S De Wit, M Burger, R Lerm. Replacements: A Van Rooyen for Willemse (51), P Scholtz for Terblanche (51), S Pretorius for Ungerer (51), T Kruger for Basson (61), A Ntsila for De Wit (69), A Tshakweni for Ferreira (73).
Referee: A Piardi (Italy).