Saturday 1 October 2016

Munster find home form at last to climb to fifth

Munster 26 Dragons 5

Thomond Park

Published 06/03/2016 | 02:30

'Tighthead Stephen Archer made his return for his 100th cap after he was side-lined with a neck injury since January in another positive for coach Anthony Foley' Photo: Sportsfile
'Tighthead Stephen Archer made his return for his 100th cap after he was side-lined with a neck injury since January in another positive for coach Anthony Foley' Photo: Sportsfile
Francis Saili, Munster, makes a break through the Newport Gwent Dragons defence Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Ian Keatley, Munster, kicks a conversion Photo: Sportsfile

Munster boosted their play-off hopes and ended their three-game losing streak at home in the Pro12 as they secured an impressive bonus-point win at Thomond Park last night.

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Dave Kilcoyne made it four tries in three games as he dotted down twice to add to Rory Scannell's first-half effort. And James Cronin sealed the bonus point late on.

Munster last won at home in the Pro12 on October 30, when they defeated Ulster, and since then they lost at home to Connacht, Leinster and Ospreys in the competiton. This win takes them fifth with a game in hand over three of the top four - they clash with Cardiff Blues next weekend.

Tighthead Stephen Archer made his return for his 100th cap after he was side-lined with a neck injury since January in another positive for coach Anthony Foley.

Munster held a 12-0 lead at half-time although the Dragons began well and should have gone ahead early. Andrew Conway was penalised for being off-side after two minutes. But Jason Tovey kicked to the corner and the line-out was overthrown. Dragons kept up the pressure but couldn't convert and Francis Saili created an opening for Conway to break, he off-loaded to Simon Zebo who nearly got over.

Darren Sweetnam and Duncan Williams also went close before John Ryan helped Kilcoyne finish off his fourth try this season after 19 minutes.

Munster extended their advantage when Ian Keatley was brave enough to go the corner with a kickable penalty on the Dragons ten-metre line.

Thomas Rhys Thomas was pinged for sealing off and although the line-out didn't go to plan, Munster retained possession. It ended with Rory Scannell straightening the line and gliding over past the despairing lunge of Nic Cudd.

Keatley's conversion made it 12-0 after 34 minutes and they could have added to that lead only play was called back when Conway was clean through.

Munster didn't have to wait long to add to their lead after the break and again it was Kilcoyne who crashed over.

But Dragons hit right back, and within two minutes Hallam Amos dove over in the left corner to drag them back into contention. The Welsh international found space on the right wing and slid over.

Jason Tovey missed the conversion and Dragons trailed 19-5 before the replacements were un-loaded and Munster began to seek out the bonus point and Cronin obliged two minutes from time.

Scorers - Munster: D Kilcoyne 2, R Scannell, J Cronin tries; I Keatley 2, J Holland cons. Dragons: H Amos try.
Munster: A Conway (D Johnston 57); D Sweetnam, F Saili, R Scannell, S Zebo; I Keatley (J Holland 61), D Williams (C Sheridan 71); D Kilcoyne (J Cronin 50), N Scannell (M Sherry 50), J Ryan (S Archer 68); M Chisholm (D Foley 40), B Holland; D O'Callaghan, T O'Donnell (R Copeland 52), J O'Donoghue.
Dragons: C Meyer; A Hewitt, A Hughes (R Wardle 52), A Warren, H Amos; J Tovey (A O'Brien 50), C Davies (S Pretorius 50); P Price, T R Thomas, B Harris (S Knight 68); C Hill, M Screech (R Landman 50); N Crosswell, N Cudd, L Evans (E Jackson 50).
Referee: Marius Mitrea (FIR)

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