WATCH - Munster's Darren Sweetnam has his blushes saved after embarrassing fumble
Dragons 16 Munster 20
Published 17/09/2016 | 19:57
Cian Bohane’s second-half try proved to be the difference as Munster overcame a tough Newport Gwent Dragons side.
After last week’s disappointing 23-24 home defeat to the Cardiff Blues, the Munstermen were desperate to get their season back on track — but they were pushed all the way by Kingsley Jones’ side.
A first-half try from Jean Kleyn had put them in control early on but the Dragons, who also began the season with one win and one defeat, forced their way back into the lead at the beginning of the second half.
But a slightly fortuitous Bohane try in the second half was enough to secure Munster back-to-back away victories on Welsh soil for the first time since November 2014, after their win at the Scarlets on the opening weekend. Darren Sweetnam won't want to see this again:
Both sides were forced to make late changes to their starting 15, with Keith Earls being replaced by Colm O’Shea for Munster and Angus O’Brien coming in for outside-half Nick Macleod after he rolled his ankle in the warm-up.
Munster started on the front foot and soon had their first points on the scoreboard with a penalty from Tyler Bleyendaal.
O’Brien levelled the scores with a kick of his own before Jean Kleyn got the game’s opening try after 20 minutes.
The visitors were deep inside the Dragon’s 22 when CJ Stander found Kleyn with a short ball and he forced his way over from close range.
Munster should have pressed home their advantage even further in the first half but let the Dragons back into the contest when O’Shea’s poor pass was picked off by wing Halam Amos, and he went under the posts.
Niall Scannell thought he had hit straight back for Munster from the re-start when he touched down in the corner from a kick from Conor Murray, but TMO Stefano Penne spotted a knock-on in the build-up.
Munster tried to turn the screw in the final moments before the end of the first half but couldn’t find a way past a stubborn Dragons defence, and the game remained level at the break.
Errors blighted the opening to the second period for Munster and a penalty at the breakdown allowed O’Brien to edge the Dragons back in front with his second penalty.
Bleyendaal restored parity with his second penalty but more uncharacteristic errors from Munster handed O’Brien another opportunity to put the Dragons in front with a penalty, which he took with ease.
The game’s pivotal moment came after 56 minutes when Munster touched down for their second try in rather fortunate circumstances.
Wing Darren Sweetnam finished off a well-worked Munster move in the corner but as he tried to get nearer to the posts he was tackled from behind by Amos. The ball spilled from Sweetnam’s grasp but Cian Bohane was first to react and he dotted down for the score.
It was the slice of luck the visitors needed and seem to take some of the sting out of the Dragons performance as they went four points behind.
Munster came under huge pressure towards the end of the game but held out well against a powerful Dragons pack.
The home side almost snatched the victory at the death but, with just seconds left on the clock, replacement James Thomas spilled the ball just shy of the Munster line — and that was the Dragons’ last opportunity.
They were left with just a losing bonus point to show for a spirited display.
Scorers — Dragons: Amos try; O’Brien 3 pens, con. Munster: Kleyn, Bohane try each; Bleyendaal 2 cons, 2 pens
Dragons: Meyer, Howard, Morgan, Dixon (Warren 77), Amos, O’Brien, Pretorius (C Davies 68); Hobbs (T Davies 52), Buckley, Harris (Mitchell 52), Crosswell (Hill 55), Landman, Evans, Griffiths (Cudd 58), Jackson (Thomas 71)
Munster: Conway (Keatley 54), Sweetnam, O’Shea (Bohane 32), Goggin, O’Mahony; Bleyendaal, Murray; Cronin (Kilcoyne 54), Scannell (Casey 66), J Ryan; Kleyn (O’Callaghan 54), D Ryan; Holland, O’Donoghue (Oliver 73), Stander.
Referee: D Phillips (Wales)