Kleyn score puts Munster back on top
PRO14 REPORT: Jean Kleyn’s second half score helped Munster reclaim top spot in Conference A of the Guinness PRO14 after edging out Dragons with a 7-8 win at Rodney Parade.
Swirling winds made for tricky kicking conditions in Newport in a game that saw only two tries scored – Lloyd Fairbrother going over for the hosts in the first half.
Dragons were looking to recover from last weekend’s home defeat at the hands of Benetton Rugby but had Matthew Screech sent to the sin bin in the second half.
And it proved costly as Kleyn scored Munster’s crucial try with a temporary man advantage in the second half – adding to Bill Johnston’s first-half penalty.
Dragons were handed their first opportunity to score points after Munster winger Darren Sweetnam was penalised for a high tackle on Will Talbot-Davies and opted to kick for the corner.
The forwards then piled on the pressure with a powerful drive for the line and it was Fairbrother who lunged over to give Dragons the lead. Josh Lewis converted the resulting kick to make it 7-0 after 15 minutes.
Munster fly-half Johnston reduced the deficit ten minutes later by sending a penalty through the posts.
Munster thought they had done enough to creep in front in first-half stoppage time but after a long look from the TMO, prop Stephen Archer was adjudged to have performed a double-movement and the score was ruled out.
And the TMO was called straight back into action after the restart after as Sweetnam chased a kick through but was deemed to have knocked it out before he could reach the in-goal area.
Soon after Dragons were under growing pressure and saw Screech sent off for ten minutes after pulling the maul down for the third time in as many minutes.
Just five metres out Munster failed to capitalise initially, knocking the ball on and allowing Dragons to clear their lines as the game entered the final 20 minutes.
Much to Dragons disappointment Munster did ultimately take advantage of the extra man and received their just deserts when Johnston took a quick tap releasing Mike Haley to make the break.
Held up a metre out Munster recycled instantly, and second-row Kleyn went over the whitewash. Johnston missed the conversion but for the first time in the game Munster had taken the lead.
Lewis had the opportunity to put Dragons back in front moments after with a penalty but the swirling winds at Rodney Parade made kicking very tricky for both sides and his effort went well wide.
No more scores meant that Munster had the win they needed to go back to the top of Conference A leaving Dragons with back-to-back home defeats.
For the Dragons:
Yellow card: Matthew Screech (Dragons, 55)
Dragons: 15 Jordan Williams, 14 Jared Rosser, 13 Tyler Morgan, 12 Jack Dixon, 11 Will Talbot-Davies, 10 Josh Lewis, 9 Rhodri Williams, 8 Ollie Griffiths, 7 Nic Cudd, 6 Harrison Keddie, 5 Matthew Screech, 4 Joe Davies, 3 Lloyd Fairbrother, 2 Richard Hibbard (captain), 1 Brok Harris.
Replacements: 16 Rhys Lawrence, 17 Rhys Fawcett, 18 Dan Suter, 19 Lewis Evans, 20 Taine Basham, 21 Rhodri Davies, 22 Jason Tovey, 23 Zane Kirchner.
Munster: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Darren Sweetnam, 13 Dan Goggin, 12 Tyler Bleyendaal (captain), 11 Ronan O’Mahony, 10 Bill Johnston, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Arno Botha, 7 Conor Oliver, 6 Fineen Wycherley, 5 Billy Holland, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 Stephen Archer, 2 Rhys Marshall, 1 Jeremy Loughman.
Replacements: 16 Kevin O’Byrne, 17 Liam O’Connor, 18 Ciaran Parker, 19 Darren O’Shea, 20 Gavin Coombes, 21 Neil Cronin, 22 Calvin Nash, 23 Jaco Taute.
Referee: Ben Blain (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Keith Allen (Scotland), Finn Brown (Scotland)
TMO: Dave Pearson (Scotland)