Friday 20 April 2018

Erasmus happy to see Munster go back to roots for ugly victory

Munster’s CJ Stander goes into contact against Newport Gwent Dragons’ Angus O’Brien during Saturday’s Pro12 clash. Photo by Ben Evans/Sportsfile
Munster’s CJ Stander goes into contact against Newport Gwent Dragons’ Angus O’Brien during Saturday’s Pro12 clash. Photo by Ben Evans/Sportsfile

Tim Lewis

John Ryan has praised Rassie Erasmus for taking Munster back to their roots - but the new head coach has called for style as well as steel from his side.

Dragons 16 Munster 20

Man-of-the-match Ryan was part of a dominant Munster pack who out-muscled the improving Dragons at Rodney Parade on Saturday, as they secured their first consecutive victories on Welsh soil since November 2014.

Darren Sweetnam of Munster gets past Angus O'Brien of Newport Gwent Dragons. Photo by Ben Evans/Sportsfile
Darren Sweetnam of Munster gets past Angus O'Brien of Newport Gwent Dragons. Photo by Ben Evans/Sportsfile

A strong scrum set the platform for a first-half try for lock Jean Kleyn, his first for Munster, before a second-half score from Cian Bohane secured the victory.

Munster had been out-fought in Newport last season, crumbling to a 22-6 defeat after being level at 6-6 at half-time.

Prop Ryan believes this victory shows how far they have come in a short space of time under new head coach Erasmus.

"We are coming on from last season, we had a poor season and we need to build because we have already seen that the league is getting very competitive," he said.

Tyler Bleyendaal of Munster kicks a penalty. Photo by Ben Evans/Sportsfile
Tyler Bleyendaal of Munster kicks a penalty. Photo by Ben Evans/Sportsfile

Automatic

"There are no automatic four or five point victories like maybe there were in previous seasons.

"We've seen in the last three games we are trying to be pretty physical and beat teams up front in the scrum and the maul, it's the Munster way and we are trying to go back to our roots.

"This week we were a bit more ruthless but there's still work to be done. When we get the opportunities to score tries we need to take them.

"We are playing the way we want to play, we are getting there and I think it's going to click in a few games."

Erasmus was pleased with the way his side ground out the victory in Newport but admitted Munster will need to have more than just the stomach for a fight if they are to challenge for a top-four spot this season.

Munster should have added to Kleyn's first-half score after putting the home side under huge pressure at the scrum but their failure to turn domination into points kept the Dragons in the game.

An interception try by Wales international Hallam Amos and a penalty from young Dragons stand-off Angus O'Brien meant the score was level at half-time when Munster should have been comfortably ahead.

There was also an element of fortune about Munster's winning try when wing Darren Sweetnam had the ball knocked from his grasp over the try-line when trying to take the ball nearer to the posts.

Luckily for Munster the ball went backwards and Bohane was quickest to react to touch down for the score.

The Dragons could have snatched an unlikely victory at the death when they had a line-out deep in the Munster half with less than a minute on the clock but a badly controlled driving maul ended with James Thomas knocking the ball on for the home side.

"The game was mighty close but we can't ignore where the team is coming from and where it's going," said Erasmus.

"It wasn't pretty, there was a lot of guts involved but you can't go too far on just guts. There are a lot of things that needs to be sorted out but it takes time.

"We are ticking the boxes slowly. It's not going to happen quickly, we have been struggling but what's pleasing from our side is the way we hung in there.

"Against the Blues we couldn't get the result but we managed to get it this time around.

"I'm just glad that when adversity happens the guys are able to come away with the win."

Back-to-back home games against Edinburgh and Zebre in rounds four and five should give Munster a chance to build some early-season momentum under Erasmus and atone for the narrow defeat against Cardiff Blues at Irish Independent Park in round two.

He will be hoping to get the most out of experienced players Keith Earls, who was a late withdrawal from the game against the Dragons with a hamstring injury, Conor Murray and Donnacha Ryan before the Autumn internationals.

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.

REF - D Phillips (Ireland)

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