Munster extended their lead at the top of Guinness PRO14 Conference A to seven points thanks to a 43-0 bonus-point win over the ill-disciplined Southern Kings at Irish Independent Park.
Neil Cronin opened his try account for the hosts in the 13th minute and Andrew Conway touched down just before half-time, making it 12-0 with Munster recovering from the precautionary withdrawal of Ireland centre Chris Farrell who tweaked his right knee in a carry before Cronin’s seven-pointer.
Turning into a strong wind, tries from Darren Sweetnam and Billy Holland sealed the bonus point by the hour mark, and replacement Rhys Marshall, man-of-the-match Jean Kleyn and Rory Scannell took the final tally to seven.
The Kings had three players sin-binned, number eight Ruaan Lerm seeing yellow in the 35th minute and replacements Tertius Kruger and Andisa Ntsila during the closing quarter.
The South Africans showed their intent with early breaks from Martinus Burger and Michael Willemse, but it was the Irish province who scored first when Cronin was able to dive over.
Centre Scannell converted from straight in front before the Kings succeeded in frustrating Munster, while also increasing their threat from deep through counter-attacking full-back Masixole Banda. Some mistimed lineouts, coupled with a forward pass from Holland, saw the men in red get no return from some sloppy attacks inside the 22.
However, the Kings’ indiscipline caught up with them when Lerm saw yellow for taking out Cronin at a midfield ruck.
Although Bader Pretorius denied Conway with a rip in the tackle, the Ireland winger was released for his try a couple of minutes later, scoring from Kleyn’s pull-back pass and a lovely floated delivery from Tyler Bleyendaal.
Mike Haley’s broken-field running was the highlight of a scrappy start to the second half, which remained scoreless until Conway’s grubber kick caught out the visitors near the left touchline.
Replacement Alby Mathewson also got his boot to the ball, nudging it over the try-line before the onrushing Sweetnam grounded it successfully. Scannell drilled the difficult conversion over for 19-0.
The extra point was pocketed seven minutes later when Munster number eight Arno Botha carried twice in quick succession before Holland barged over from close range. Luck was not on the Kings’ side when replacement Sarel Pretorius’ breakaway try was ruled out from a marginal knock-on from a Conway kick.
Munster, who lead Glasgow at the top of the table, dominated the remainder of the game with hooker Marshall crossing for a converted maul effort before Kruger was binned for a high tackle on Sweetnam and Ntsila followed him for a tip tackle on Conway.
Marshall’s throw to the front of a lineout played in Kleyn for his 70th minute try, and Scannell took advantage of Dan Goggin’s challenge on Bader Pretorius to run in a last-minute score.