Dragons stun Munster
MATCH REPORT: Dragons claimed their first United Rugby Championship win of the season after hitting back to beat Munster 23-17 at home.
The Gwent region recorded their first win at Rodney Parade for over 18 months to give head coach, Dai Flanagan, a victory in his first home game in charge.
Dragons had to rely on a superb individual try from Rio Dyer for the victory with JJ Hanrahan kicking six penalties.
Munster’s tries came from Stephen Archer and Ben Healy, with the latter adding two conversions and a penalty.
A simple penalty from Healy gave Munster an early lead but their former player, Hanrahan, nullified this with a more difficult effort from 50 metres.
Munster then suffered a double injury blow when Keith Earls and Jean Kleyn left the field simultaneously before receiving further setbacks when Hanrahan kicked four penalties in quick succession to put the Welsh region firmly in the driving seat.
Munster were rattled as a Dragons pack, led by the ferocious efforts of Bradley Roberts and Ross Moriarty, tore into them, causing them to turn over possession on a regular basis.
However, they recovered to score the first try when Healy made a sharp break to send Simon Zebo away down the left flank. The wing was brought down by a high tackle from Dyer with a penalty awarded.
It was taken quickly for Archer to crash over with the referee also yellow-carding Dyer for the earlier high challenge.
Moments later, Munster capitalised on Dyer’s absence when Healy evaded a tackle from Rhodri Williams for an easy run-in which the outside half converted to leave his side with a 17-15 half-time advantage.
Four minutes after the restart, with Dyer still in the sin-bin, Dragons blew a golden opportunity to go back in front when they chose a scrum instead of allowing Hanrahan to kick a simple penalty.
The third quarter finished scoreless as the home side declined to take two further chances to kick penalties.
With 11 minutes remaining, Hanrahan had his chance but surprisingly missed with a 40-metre kick but it mattered little as Dyer powered away on a 55-metre run to evade defenders for a splendid individual try.
Dragons fans roared on their heroes and their cause was helped by Munster’s flank, Jack O’Donoghue, being yellow-carded, with Hanrahan sealing victory with the last kick of the match.
Player of the Match
Former Scarlet player Angus O’Brien turned in a polished performance. He was assured in collecting Munster’s clearances and was always a potent threat in attack, regularly beating the first defender to put his side on the front foot.
Play of the match
Dragons had to rely on Hanrahan’s potency with the boot to remain in contention and they looked unlikely to cross the line until Rio Dyer produced a moment of magic. On halfway he received possession in an unpromising position but he powered through two tackles before evading the last coverer on a 55-metre run to the line for the match-winner.
Pens: Hanrahan 6
Tries: Archer, Healy
Cons: Healy 2
Pens: Healy 2
Dragons: 15 Angus O’Brien, 14 Rio Dyer, 13 Sio Tomkinson, 12 Jack Dixon, 11 Ashton Hewitt, 10 JJ Hanrahan, 9 Rhodri Williams, 8 Ross Moriarty, 7 Taine Basham, 6 Sean Lonsdale, 5 Will Rowlands (captain), 4 George Nott, 3 Lloyd Fairbrother, 2 Bradley Roberts, 1 Aki Seiuli.
Replacements: 16 Elliot Dee, 17 Rob Evans, 18 Chris Coleman, 19 Ben Carter, 20 Aaron Wainwright, 21 Lewis Jones, 22 Max Clark, 23 Jordan Williams.
Munster: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Keith Earls, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Dan Goggin, 11 Simon Zebo, 10 Ben Healy, 9 Craig Casey, 8 Jack O’Sullivan, 7 Peter O’Mahony (captain), 6 Jack O’Donoghue, 5 Fineen Wycherley, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 Stephen Archer, 2 Niall Scannell, 1 Dave Kilcoyne.
Replacements: 16 Scott Buckley, 17 Liam O’Connor, 18 Keynan Knox, 19 Edwin Edogbo, 20 Tadhg Beirne, 21 Paddy Patterson, 22 Joey Carbery, 23 Liam Coombes.
Referee: Sam Grove-White (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Simon Rees (Wales), Aaron Parry (Wales)
TMO: Andrew McMenemy (Scotland)