Munster 68 Southern Kings 3
The opposition may have, as expected, been poor, but there was plenty for Munster to celebrate at Irish Independent Park as they got this block of games off to an impressive start with a bonus-point win.
And with Johann van Graan vowing to integrate young talent during this set of games, they will be hugely enthused by the performance of John Hodnett, who crowned his magnificent debut with a try.
The 21-year-old openside flanker, a product of Clonakilty RFC, was a key member of the Irish U-20 Grand Slam success last year and eased his way up to this level of rugby with a brilliant display, which was full of great carries.
"It went pretty well," said Hodnett. "During the week I was just trying to do the best I could and make some impacts during the game. I was lucky enough I got a few breaks. It was good but anyone could have got man of the match today. It was a real team performance."
Hodnett laid down an early marker, as he set up the opening try with a surging run after seven minutes and while he was stopped short, Kings full-back Andell Loubser did not release and was binned. Munster opted for the scrum and Arno Botha broke from the base and with only out-half Demetri Catrakilis in front of him, made it to the line.
Former Harlequins and Montpellier out-half Catrakilis pulled back a penalty but the Kings were sloppy all over the pitch and Munster, while not without their own unforced handling errors, pulled away.
A switch from centre Dan Goggin exposed the Kings defence for Haley to send Calvin Nash over in the right corner after 23 minutes, with Hanrahan landing his second conversion to make it 14-3.
Hanrahan was instrumental in setting up the next try, a saunter through by Botha for his second touchdown of the night, after excellent handling out wide by Chris Farrell, who was superb throughout, and Niall Scannell.
The bonus point came from another player keen to impress Andy Farrell, with Jack O’Donoghue getting the bounce when he chased a neat chip from Hanrahan and the Waterford man encountered little blockage from full-back Loubser as he scored. Hanrahan landed his fourth conversion to make it 28-3 and all that remained to be decided was the margin of victory.
Haley and Neil Cronin set up Hodnett up for his try after 49 minutes and then dreadful errors in defence by the Kings presented opportunities that Neil Cronin and Shane Daly pounced on for tries, with replacement Ben Healy converting the seventh try after Hanrahan went off with six from six, as Munster led by 49-3 going into the final quarter.
Kings flanker Lusanda Badiyana was binned after 70 minutes and Munster punished them as Dan Goggin and Daly got in for tries with Botha completing his hat-trick in between.
Munster – M Haley; C Nash (R Scannell 56), C Farrell, D Goggin, S Daly; JJ Hanrahan (B Healy 56), N Cronin (N McCarthy 56); J Cronin (J Loughman 60), N Scannell (K O’Byrne 60), J Ryan (K Knox 60); F Wycherley (G Coombes 63), B Holland; J O’Donoghue, J Hodnett (C Cloete 63), A Botha.
Southern Kings – A Loubser; C Hollis, S Sithole, E Cronje, E Ludick; D Catrakilis (C Winnaar 56), S Ungerer (J Allderman 56); S Ferreira (X Vos 69), J du Toit (A van Rooyen 56), R de Klerk (I Prinsloo 56); J Sexton, JC Astle (A Fortuin 51); L Badiyana, B de Wee (T Bholi 40), R Lerm (L Dapula 77).
Ref – N Amashukeli (Georgia).