Watch: Munster score try of the season candidate with thrilling end-to-end move in South Africa
Southern Kings 22 Munster 39
Munster came good after a sluggish start to ensure that CJ Stander's return to his hometown George was marked with a bonus-point win in South Africa. Stander even managed to get in on the scoring act and he was given a standing ovation when he was replaced in the closing minutes.
But Munster didn't have it all their own way and were on the back foot for long periods of the opening half against a Southern Kings side coming off the back of two good performances.
The win, achieved with 10 changes from the side which defeated Toulon, keeps Munster on track as the business end of the PRO14 comes into sight.
Munster's fears of a tough night against the improving Kings were fully realised in the opening half when the South Africans went in at the break leading by 15-13. Indeed, they looked set to take a bigger advantage into the interval but Munster were rewarded with a stoppage time try which started with a penalty outside their own 22, with JJ Hanrahan putting Calvin Nash through for his second ever Munster try.
It was a score which Munster badly needed after an opening half where little went right. They lost loosehead James Cronin to an injury after 10 minutes which might make him doubtful for the Champions Cup semi-final against Racing 92. Dan Goggin also went off after a clash of heads but the key moment in the opening half came when lock Gerbrandt Grobler was sin-binned after 25 minutes. It seemed a harsh decision as the South African went to clear out a ruck as Kings hands were again on the ball as Munster scrum-half James Hart tried to inject some momentum.
At the time Munster were leading 3-0, thanks to Ian Keatley's penalty after 17 minutes, but the Kings posted 15 points while Grobler was off. A grubber from centre Berton Klaasen sat up perfectly for Michael Makase and while Alex Wootton nabbed him, he off-loaded for Andisa Ntsila to score. The flanker was one of three players from George in the Kings squad and it was a perfect way for him to crown the first PRO14 match in his town.
Full-back Masixole Banda landed the conversion and it got better three minutes later when lock Stephen Greff got over after a move which started when Goggin and Nash clashed heads out wide, creating the opening which the Kings exploited. Banda missed the conversion but added a penalty to make it 15-3 just before Grobler returned.
Munster built the phases when back to 15 men and hooker Niall Scannell squeezed over two minutes from the break, a perfect way to celebrate his 26th birthday today.
And they finished the half strongly, with Grobler involved before Hanrahan put Nash through, but Keatley was unable to level with the conversion.
Munster got on top after the restart and hit the front when Stander finished from close range after Keatley was stopped following a good dart. It was Stander's 33rd try in 111 appearances for Munster. Keatley converted to make it 20-15 after 48 minutes.
They wrapped up the bonus point six minutes with a superb try started inside his own 22 by Keatley; Rory Scannell's sublime pass put Goggin through for an excellent score and he had the gas to make it to the right corner and grab his maiden try for the Reds.
What An Offload @DanGoggin121113 benefits from some ruthless counter-attacking rugby to give @Munsterrugby a cushion over @SouthernKingsSA.— PRO14 RUGBY (@PRO14Official) April 7, 2018
Watch on @TG4TV or @SuperSportTV.#KINvMUN #GUINNESSPRO14 pic.twitter.com/09kIuciq9v
Hanrahan took over the kicking duties while Keatley was being treated after a late hit, but he was unable to convert from the right wing.
Both sides emptied their benches on the warm but not stifling evening and the Kings continued to run everything from deep, and with better execution could have eaten into the lead.
But Munster pushed on with replacement hooker Rhys Marshall getting their fifth try after a tapped penalty 11 minutes from time, with Keatley's making it 32-15, before replacement prop Dave Kilcoyne also crossed.
The Kings hit back with a wonderful try from deep which was finished by winger Makase, much to the joy of the home following.
Scorers - Southern Kings: A Ntsila, S Greeff, M Makase tries; M Banda 2 cons, pen. Munster: N Scannell, C Nash, CJ Stander, D Goggin, R Marshall, D Kilcoyne tries; I Keatley 3 cons, pen.
Southern Kings: M Banda; M Makase, J Nel (N Dukisa 63), B Klaasen, Y Penxe; M du Toit (L Vulindlu 70), G Masimla (R van Rooyen 56); S Ferreira (J Forwood 36-40) (Forwood 70), S Coetzee, P Scholtz (L Pupuma 56); S Greeff (L Mtyanda 56), B De Wee; A Ntsila (L Badiyana 67), M Burger, R Lerm.
Munster: JJ Hanrahan (Fitzgerald 63); C Nash, D Goggin (S Fitzgerald 32-40), R Scannell, A Wootton; I Keatley, J Hart (J Stafford 65); J Cronin (D Kilcoyne 10), N Scannell (R Marshall 56), J Ryan (B Scott 67); J Kleyn (B Holland 56), G Grobler; D O'Callaghan, C Oliver (J O'Donoghue 56), CJ Stander (R Copeland 73).
Referee: L Linton (Scotland).
Sunday Indo Sport