Munster suffered a second consecutive defeat to Welsh opposition after a woeful performance against Dragons
By: Benjamin Geary
Munster were handed their second consecutive loss of the BKT United Rugby Championship season on Sunday as Dragons earned a 23-17 home victory at Rodney Parade.
A familiar face led the Dragon’s attack as former Munster out-half JJ Hanrahan kicked 18 points from the tee.
Munster were the first to get points on the board despite the run of play favouring the home side with Hanrahan’s ex-teammate Ben Healy adding 3 points off the boot.
However, Dragons hit back with a number of ferocious carries across multiple phases. and kept this energy up throughout the game
The Munster starting lineup suffered two significant losses when second-row Jean Kleyn and club legend Keith Earls were both ushered off the pitch within moments of each other.
Neither returned to the field of play, but it did pave for Ireland international Tadhg Bernie’s return.
Four sloppy penalties from Munster gifted 12 points to the home side within quick succession, carrying on an unwanted trend from the Cardiff loss last week.
Gaps began to appear in the Munster defence as former Ulster hooker Bradley Roberts and second-row George Nott both made breaks deep into Munster territory.
A further infringement from the visitors allowed Hanrahan to extend his new club’s lead to 12 points beyond Munster.
A break and pass from Ben Healy gave Simon Zebo a chance to cross the Dragon’s line before a high tackle from Rio Dyer brought him down.
The Dragons winger saw yellow and spent 10 minutes in the bin as punishment.
The move started by Healy signalled a wave of pressure from the Red Army and a quick tap from Craig Casey put Munster hooker Stephen Archer in the perfect position to power over the Dragons line.
Munster engineered a second try within minutes when Casey made the most of his pack’s maul, delivering a quick pop pass to his half-back partner Healy who crashed over. Healy’s extras sent Munster to the sheds with a two-point lead.
However, just like the Munster Development side the day previous, a scoreless second half awaited the men in red as they failed to match Dragons at 15v15 rugby.
Hanrahan had a chance to score the first points of the second half but pushed his attempt wide.
The previously binned Dyer made up for his lack of discipline with an exceptional solo try, putting the home side ahead once again.
Munster dug deep with their attempts to swing momentum in their favour, Munster’s attempts to uncover points were fruitless once Jack O’Donoghue saw yellow for infringing at the breakdown. Hanrahan added the extras to hand his former club their second loss of the season.