Friday 3 February 2023 Dublin: 10°C
Dan Sheridan/INPHO Munster head coach Johann van Graan.
# Comeback kings
'It was a very good contest' - Van Graan satisfied with Munster's battling bonus-point win
Munster came from behind to defeat the Southern Kings in George on Saturday to book their place in the Guinness PRO14 Final Series.

MUNSTER COACH JOHANN van Graan was left a happy man after his team’s hard-fought 39-22 win over the Southern Kings at Outeniqua Park in George in the Guinness Pro14 on Saturday.

It was the home side who led proceeding 15-13 at the break, courtesy of tries by Andisa Ntsila and Stephen Greef.

But the Munster comeback started on the stroke of half-time when Calvin Nash cut through the Kings’ defence to cross from a penalty.

Second-half tries by the hometown hero CJ Stander, as well as Dan Goggin, Rhys Marshall and David Kilcoyne now see Musnter head up to Bloemfontein next week six points clear of the Toyota Cheetahs in Conference A.

Following the game, van Graan lauded his team for the composure they showed to come from behind for the bonus point win.

Calvin Nash celebrates his try Dan Sheridan / INPHO Calvin Nash celebrates his try on Saturday. Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

“I thought that it was a very good contest, we were pinned in our half for the first part of the game,” he said.

“We managed to get some momentum and a few try scoring opportunities, but I thought that the Kings really defended well.

“The break down was a really tough battle. We went down a man and conceded two tries — it was good composure from our side to get back in the game.

“To me the turning point of the game was when we got a penalty right on the stroke of half-time and decided to go for touch and get a maul going with lots of momentum for the try.

“In the second half we were structurally better. We lifted our tempo with our impact, and we closed out the game very well, so I’m very happy with the five points.”

There was always some concern that Munster would show signs of the ill-affects from their narrow 20-19 win over Toulon a week prior in the Champions Cup.

Van Graan added that for his side there was more concern over the lengthy travel, and adjusting to the South Africa summer, which is coming into autumn.

“No at all, it was a titanic battle, but for us the biggest challenge was to get over the travel.

CJ Stander is surrounded by both sets of fans after the game Dan Sheridan / INPHO CJ Stander surrounded by both sets of fans after the game. Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

“We came a long way and getting used to this heat is very different than what we are currently used to in Ireland.

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“We always knew that the Kings have been playing some good rugby over the past few weeks. They came close against Benneton and actually thumped the Dragons.

“They also had a bye last week, so we knew that it was going to be a battle and that they were going to be up for it.”

The team returned to Cape Town, where they will be spending the week again before heading up to altitude to tackle the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Friday evening.

There are reports suggesting Stander will not play the game against the Cheetahs, while it is also believed former Munster coach Rassie Erasmus will be in attendance, along with Pro14 CEO Martin Anayi.

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