Wednesday 22 November 2017

McGahan calls for calm

Munster 20, Dragons 12, John Fallon

Munster equalled the league record for 11 successive wins, which was set by Leinster in 2002, but the figure of most concern for Tony McGahan was the three yellow cards his side suffered in the second half at Musgrave Park on Saturday.

The champions were never really in trouble as they opened their title defence with a solid display, despite being without their Irish stars and losing Lifeimi Mafi, Peter O'Mahony and Damien Varley to yellows.

"Three in the first game is something we really need to look at. Thirty minutes without your full complement makes it difficult," said McGahan.

Yet, his side dealt with the task with a solid performance against a limited Dragons side. "At 17-6 at half-time, we really needed to continue the momentum, but they hung in well and losing three men certainly puts the brakes on that.

"But we showed some endeavour and had some nice offloading there and made some incisions, but we just were not clinical enough to get it over, and our reaction time on a few things was off."

Munster scored both of their tries in the opening half. The first started with Mick O'Driscoll winning a line-out on his own five-metre line. Doug Howlett chased Peter Stringer's Garryowen and suddenly Munster broke.

Skipper O'Mahony made the hard yards up the middle for Stringer and Ian Keatley to put Johne Murphy away and Danny Barnes was on his shoulder to score in the corner.

Keatley added a conversion and did likewise when Munster struck again before the break. Holland collected at the tail of a line-out on the 10-metre line to send Denis Hurley away and when he was caught, Mafi was there to score under the posts.

Dragons prop Ben Castle was the first to receive yellow after the restart, but it was only when Mafi and O'Mahony were binned that either side managed a score, Jason Tovey landing his second penalty to make it 17-9 after 63 minutes.

Another Tovey penalty after Varley was shown yellow left five between them, but a Keatley penalty sealed the win.

Munster -- J Murphy; D Howlett, D Barnes, L Mafi, D Hurley (S Zebo 61) (Sherry 71) (Zebo 78); I Keatley, P Stringer (D Williams 61); M Horan (W du Preez 49), M Sherry (D Varley 57), S Archer (J Hayes 67); B Holland, M O'Driscoll; P O'Mahony, N Ronan, J Coughlan.

Dragons -- S Jones (M Thomas 64); A Hughes, T Riley, A Smith (P Leach 39), M Poole; J Tovey, J Bedford; P Price, T Willis, B Castle (D Way 51); A Jones, R Sidoli; A Coombs, G Thomas, T Brown (H Ellis 43).

REF -- S Penne (Italy).

Irish Independent

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