The Southern Kings suffered their second defeat in as many weeks going down 31-20 to Munster in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.
Off the back of their narrow opening-round defeat by the Cardiff Blues, Robbie Kempson’s side were seeking an improved performance for a first victory over the Irish giants at the third attempt.
The Kings relinquished their lead in the final quarter a week ago, while last season’s semi-finalists Munster cruised to a comfortable opening victory over the Dragons at Thomand Park.
In a low-scoring first half, Munster flyhalf JJ Hanrahan opened the visitors’ account with a penalty kick after the Kings were penalised at the breakdown. The hosts struck back via the boot of the ever-reliable Demetri Catrakilis.
After having had two tries ruled out because of a forward pass and a double movement, Munster’s first five-pointer was scored by fullback Mike Haley, after some good work in the buildup by right wing Darren Sweetnam. Catrakilis slotted his second penalty after which the home side trailed by four points heading into half time.
The Kings, who were intent on playing a territorial game with numerous tactical kicks, took the lead soon after the restart through a try from scrumhalf Stefan Ungerer, who provided support after a linebreak by the exciting Masixole Banda.
Munster responded with a superb team try finished off by former All Blacks scrumhalf Alby Mathewson, after counter-attacking from deep inside their own 22.
Further tries by lock Fineen Wycherley and two-Test Bok Arno Botha had Munster sealing a comfortable bonus-point victory over a Kings side who will again rue their missed opportunities, despite replacement loose forward Elrigh Louw’s consolation try late on.
The Kings’ tough start to the campaign doesn’t get any easier in another challenging fixture against Ulster at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on 12 October.
Southern Kings – Tries: Stefan Ungerer, Elrigh Louw. Conversions: Demetri Catrakilis (2), Penalty: Catrakilis (2).
Munster – Tries: Mike Haley, Alby Mathewson, Fineen Wycherley, Arno Botha. Conversions: JJ Hanrahan (4), Penalty: Hanrahan (1).
Southern Kings: – 15 Masixole Banda, 14 Andell Loubser, 13 Tertius Kruger, 12 JT Jackson, 11 Courtney Winnaar, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Stefan Ungerer, 8 Ruaan Lerm, 7 Tienie Burger, 6 Lusanda Badiyana (c), 5 Aston Fortuin, 4 Jerry Sexton, 3 Pieter Scholtz, 2 Alandre van Rooyen, 1 Juan Schoeman.
Subs: 16 Jacques du Toit, Alulutho Tshakweni, Rossouw De Klerk, Bobby de Wee, Elrigh Louw, Josh Allderman, Sibusiso Sithole, Josiah Twum-Boafo.
Munster – 15 Mike Haley, 14 Darren Sweetnam, 13 Dan Goggin, 12 Rory Scannell, 11 Shane Daly, 10 JJ Hanrahan, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Arno Botha, 7 Tommy O’Donnell (c), 6 Jack O’Donoghue, 5 Fineen Wycherley, 4 Darren O’Shea, 3 Stephen Archer, 2 Kevin O’Byrne, 1 Liam O’Connor.
Subs: 16 Diarmuid Barron, 17 James Cronin, 18 Jeremy Loughman, 19 Jed Holloway, 20 Billy Holland, 21 Neil Cronin, 22 Tyler Bleyendaal, 23 Chris Cloete.
Picture: PRO14 Website