Whitewash victory for Munster over Southern Kings

Munster's Fineen Wycherley wins a line-out. Photo: INPHO/Laszlo Geczo
By Stephen Barry

Munster 43 - 0 Southern Kings

Andrew Conway made a strong claim for inclusion in Joe Schmidt's plans as Munster eased to a 43-point whitewash victory over the Southern Kings.

There was a potential sting in the tail for the Ireland coach as Chris Farrell aggravated a knee injury in setting up Munster's opening try, although his replacement appeared to be somewhat precautionary as he jogged off the field.

The scoreline was every bit as one-sided as expected between the Conference A leaders and the Conference B backmarkers.

Jean Kleyn scores Munster's fifth try despite the efforts of Sarel Pretorius of Southern Kings. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

Munster extended their unbeaten home run to 18 games, dating all the way back to the December 2017 loss to Leinster, while the Kings have lost all 15 games in Europe since joining the PRO14. Their average margin of defeat in those encounters is 30.5 points.

"We were very average in that first-half but brilliant response from the guys in the second half, so we're happy with the points," said Munster head coach Johann van Graan.

They may have ground out their last two wins against Exeter (9-7) and Dragons (8-7), but this was a total mismatch on the South Africans' first visit to the province.

Despite the backing of the elements, Munster initially struggled to impose their structure on the game and failed to secure possession in the opposition half for the first 11 minutes. The Kings refused to be blown back, carrying into the teeth of a strong wind and Munster defence, but couldn't sustain any real threat to the Munster try-line.

But once Munster escaped, the Kings couldn't get a foothold for the rest of the half.

Conway kicked well time and again to crank up the pressure and Munster showed their intent by kicking penalties to the corner throughout the half. Farrell's brute-force allowed Neil Cronin to stroll over for the opening try, which Rory Scannell converted.

Munster did everything to prevent an open game breaking out, but their own attack was error-prone in crucial moments. Debutant PRO14 referee Andrea Piardi's error proved most telling, though, as he incorrectly penalised and sin-binned Ruaan Lerm.

Southern Kings' Masixole Banda is tackled by Fineen Wycherley of Munster. Photo: INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

This time, Munster made it count with Tyler Bleyendaal, captain on his first start at out-half since February 2018, providing the skip pass for Conway to touch down. Scannell missed the conversion, meaning a 12-nil half-time lead.

Another half meant another period of struggling to assert superiority before the introduction of Alby Mathewson invited more pace and purpose from the Munster attack.

Conway's clever kick almost provided Mathewson with a try, or indeed a penalty try, although Darren Sweetnam ensured there'd be no difference over the Kings' foul play as he touched down.

From there, it was all about the bonus point and that arrived on the hour when Billy Holland bashed his way over. Scannell converted the first of two conversions. 24-nil.

Sarel Pretorius was denied a try in response by the TMO, while Munster went through the gears. Rhys Marshall touched down at the back of a lineout maul, with Scannell mastering the wind with the conversion.

The Kings lost their discipline, being reduced to 13 men for 10 minutes, before man-of-the-match Jean Kleyn punished their lack of alertness with an unconverted try from Marshall's short lineout throw. He was withdrawn shortly after as he sustained a knock.

Scannell was handed a gift-wrapped last-minute try, making his final conversion to complete a 13-point haul.

An improved second-half performance sent the home fans home happy, while the Kings are condemned to travel to Dublin next Friday.

Same again for Leinster at the RDS?

MUNSTER: M Haley; A Conway, C Farrell (D Goggin, 18 inj), R Scannell, D Sweetnam; T Bleyendaal (JJ Hanrahan, 65), N Cronin (A Mathewson, 49); J Loughman (L O’Connor, 49), N Scannell (R Marshall, 62), J Ryan (S Archer, 62); J Kleyn, B Holland (D O’Shea, 62); F Wycherley, C Cloete, A Botha (G Coombes, 68).

Unreplaced: J Kleyn (74 inj).

SOUTHERN KINGS: M Banda; Y Penxe, M Rokoua, B Klaasen, B Basson (T Kruger, 62); B Pretorius, S Ungerer (S Pretorius, 56); S Ferreira (A Tshakweni, 73), M Willemse (A van Rooyen, 64), DJ Terblanche (P Scholtz, 52); A van Schalkwyk (S Greeff, 64), JC Astle; S de Wit (A Ntsila, 36-ht blood, 64), M Burger, R Lerm.

Unused replacement: U Beyers.

Sin bin: R Lern (34-44), T Kruger (68-78), A Ntsila (69-ft).

Referee: A Piardi (Italy).

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