Munster edge out Newport Gwent Dragons in tight PRO12 clash
Published 17/09/2016 | 20:46
Munster recorded their second Guinness PRO12 victory of the season on Welsh soil after edging out Newport Gwent Dragons 20-16 in a fierce contest at Rodney Parade.
The Irish province responded to their Cork defeat to Cardiff Blues by winning in Newport, having also beaten the Scarlets on the opening weekend.
The Dragons had won this corresponding fixture 22-6 last season and produced a spirited performance as they went in search of back-to-back victories, following an 11-6 success against Zebre eight days previously.
They ended the game on the front foot but were unable to force their way over from a driving lineout, having to settle for a losing bonus point.
Both sides suffered pre-match injury blows with the Dragons losing their fly-half Nick Macleod while Munster's Ireland centre Keith Earls, who was set for his first game of the season, was also forced to withdraw.
The visitors showed no sign of disruption and made a strong start with their scrum earning an 11th-minute penalty that fly-half Tyler Bleyendaal kicked between the posts.
The lead was short-lived as Angus O'Brien levelled. Brought in at 10 for Macleod, he booted the three points after Munster were penalised by Irish referee Dudley Phillips for not releasing.
The visitors regained their advantage after 20 minutes when lock Jean Kleyn barged over from close range, Bleyendaal converting, and they sought to stretch away.
However, the Dragons' spirit in defence meant they headed into half-time level at 10-10 thanks to Wales wing Hallam Amos intercepting a pass by centre Colm O'Shea for a try that O'Brien improved.
The game was nip and tuck with both sides defending strongly so that the boot became the source of points, O'Brien striking two penalties to Bleyendaal's one to make it 16-13 to the Dragons approaching the hour.
Munster then moved into a 20-16 lead thanks to a combination of slick handling and good fortune, wing Darren Sweetnam going over down the right only to lose the ball over the line while trying to make the conversion easier.
It went backwards and Cian Bohane was swiftest to react for a 57th-minute try that Bleyendaal converted.
The game was still in the balance heading into the closing stages, with the Dragons refusing to buckle in the face of some powerful play by their Irish visitors.
And with the last play they piled towards the Munster line with a 15-man driving lineout only for the men in red to hold on.