Munster blow their chance
NG Dragons 31
Published 07/03/2010 | 05:00
Munster missed the chance to go top of the Magners League after surrendering to Newport Gwent Dragons at Rodney Parade. The defending champions had the opportunity to overtake leaders Ospreys overnight with victory here last night.
And despite dominating the set-piece that lead to a penalty try as well as Tim O'Donnell's effort, tries by Aled Brew, Will Harries and Martyn Thomas saw Munster return empty-handed.
Tony Buckley scored in injury time but this defeat will hurt Munster's title hopes while Ronan O'Gara's poor form in front of goal will not have helped his Ireland chances.
Munster dominated the early exchanges but Doug Howlett saw his effort ruled out in the 10th minute after the fourth official ruled he was held over the line. It typified a frustrating opening for the defending champions who also saw O'Gara strike the post from close range and soon worsened when Newport struck against the run of play.
Aled Brew, capped by Wales in 20007, caught Tovey's pass at full stretch but then side-stepped past Howlett, fended-off Quinlan and then defied Paul Warwick's challenge to score and Tovey converted.
It was the wake up call Munster needed and within six minutes, they were back on level terms. Tony Buckley ensured they had a major advantage in the scrum and when Newport's pack conceded three penalties in quick succession close to their own posts, referee Dudley Phillips had little choice but to award a penalty try.
However two penalties by Tovey just before half-time gave Newport a surprise 13-7 lead and Munster started the second half down to 14 men after Lifeimi Mafi was sent to the sin bin.
Dragons made the advantage count when Harries broke through and Tovey converted while O'Gara was off-target again.
Munster did reduce the deficit through O'Donnell after Denis Fogarty's burst through the midfield was followed by Warwick, but O'Gara's conversion again sailed wide.
The Dragons lost Wayne Evans to a yellow card but it was Martyn Thomas who scored the game's next try as Munster were denied even a losing bonus point despite Buckley's injury-time score.
Scorers -- Dragons: A Brew, W Harries, M Thomas 1 try each, J Tovey 2 cons 4 pens. Munster: Penalty try, T O'Donnell, T Buckley 1 try each. R O'Gara 2 cons, 1 pen.
NG Dragons: M Thomas; W Harries, M Watkins, A Smith, Al Brew; J Tovey (J Arlidge 79), W Evans; H Gustafson, T Willis (capt), B Castle (P Palmer, 54, B Castle 79), A Jones (R Sidoli h-t), L Charteris , D Lydiate, L Evans, G Thomas.
Munster: P Warwick; D Howlett, L Mafi, J de Villiers (S Deasy 79), D Hurley; R O'Gara, P Stringer (D Williams 70); M Horan (J Brugnaut 69), D Fogarty (D Varley 63), T Buckley; M O'Driscoll (capt), B Holland; A Quinlan, J Coughlan, T O'Donnell (N Williams 49).
Referee: Dudley Phillips (Ireland)