Stander in victorious homecoming
PRO14 REPORT: Ireland international Christiaan Stander returned to his hometown of George in Victorious fashion.
Stander captained Munster to a comfortable 39-22 win over the Southern Kings in a Round 19 encounter in George on Saturday.
It was with mixed feelings looked on as one of their heroes captained the Irish province to victory over the willing Kings outfit.
Flyhalf Ian Keatley also played a crucial ro;le on the win.
Keatley was instrumental as Munster crossed six times, coming from behind to win after trailing narrowly at the break.
Niall Scannell, Calvin Nash, Stander, Dan Goggin, Rhys Marshall and Dave Kilcoyne all scored tries as they closed the gap to seven points to Glasgow Warriors in Conference A.
The Kings stay bottom of Conference B after their 18th loss of the season, just seven points off the Dragons in front.
Munster made a steady start with Keatley firing through an early penalty but the hosts, buoyant still from their first ever Pro14 win against Dragons, had a surprise in store.
A clever kick in behind from Berton Klaasen was latched onto by Michael Makase and he offloaded to Andisa Ntsila to score.
That sent the home fans crazy but it was nothing in comparison to what was about to come. With Munster down to 14 due to Gerbrandt Grobler's yellow card, Yaw Penxe darted down the left to exploit space.
That stretched Munster and a couple of phases later, Stephen Greef crossed in the corner.
Munster regained their composure and hit back just before the break, with wing Nash sprinting through a big hole on the stroke of half-time.
That reduced the gap to two points before the break and gave Munster the momentum, which they capitalised on in the second half.
Keatley jinked past a couple of tackles and was taken down just a metre short, allowing Stander to dive over from close range.
That gave the Irishman a five-point lead and minutes later the bonus-point was confirmed – and in some style.
Nash made a break down the right and fired a pass back inside for Goggin to run in unopposed.
As the game wore on, the Southern Kings became worn down and Munster hit twice more through Rhys Marshall and Dave Kilcoyne.
The Kings did not lack spirit though and Makase finished off a flowing move for their third try of the match at the death.
For the Southern Kings:
Tries: Ntsila, Greeff, Makase
Cons: Banda 2
Tries: Scannell, Nash, Stander, Goggin, Marshall, Kilcoyne
Cons: Keatley 3
Yellow card: Gerbrandt Grobler (Munster, 24 - foul play, shoulder charge into ruck)
Southern Kings: 15 Masixole Banda, 14 Michael Makase, 13 Jacques Nel, 12 Berton Klaasen, 11 Yaw Penxe, 10 Martin Du Toit, 9 Godlen Masimla, 8 Ruaan Lerm, 7 Martinus Burger, 6 Andisa Ntsila, 5 Bobby De Wee, 4 Stephan Greeff, 3 Pieter Scholtz, 2 Stephan Coetzee, 1 Schalk Ferreira (captain).
Replacements: 16 Alandre Van Rooyen, 17 Justin Forwood, 18 Luvuyo Pupuma, 19 Lubabalo Mtyanda, 20 Lusanda Badiyana, 21 Rudi Van Rooyen, 22 Ntabeni Dukisa, 23 Luzuko Vulindlu.
Munster: 15 JJ Hanrahan, 14 Calvin Nash, 13 Dan Goggin, 12 Rory Scannell, 11 Alex Wootton, 10 Ian Keatley, 9 James Hart, 8 Christiaan Stander (captain), 7 Conor Oliver, 6 Dave O’Callaghan, 5 Gerbrandt Grobler, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 John Ryan, 2 Niall Scannell, 1 James Cronin.
Replacements: 16 Rhys Marshall, 17 David Kilcoyne, 18 Brian Scott, 19 Billy Holland, 20 Jack O’Donoghue, 21 Jack Stafford, 22 Stephen Fitzgerald, 23 Robin Copeland.
Referee: Lloyd Linton (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Quinton Immelman (South Africa), Ruhan Meiring (South Africa)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)