MUNSTER began the defence of their Celtic League title with a 20-12 win over Dragons in the newly-named RaboDirect Pro12 in Musgrave Park on Staurday.
In the absence of some seven first team ‘regulars’ who are on World Cup duty with Ireland, coach McGahan will appreciate the importance of the home side winning their home fixtures in this demanding competition. Munster face just a six-day turnaround as McGahan’s men travel to Firhill on Friday night to take on the Glasgow Warriors in their second outing of the PRO12 (7.30pm).
While Munster will be pleased will several aspects of their play on Saturday evening, including the clinical edge displayed in their two opening half tries, as well as some teak tough defence in the second period as the Dragons clawed their way back into the game and the eye-catching displays of several of the home side’s young guns, including stand-in skipper Peter O’Mahony, Billy Holland, Mike Sherry and the experienced duo of James Coughlan and Niall Ronan in the pack, and some smashing back play from the likes of Danny Barnes and Johne Murphy, the management team will have been concerned by the side’s second half indiscipline.
Munster jumped into a significant 17-6 interval lead following a stunning team try scored by Danny Barnes and another from a well-executed line-out move which was finished by Lifeimi Mafi. A 73rd minute penalty from the boot of out-half Ian Keatley settled Munster nerves..
SCORERS- Munster 20 (Danny Barnes, Lifeimi Mafi try, Ian Keatley two pens, two cons). Dragons 12 (Jason Tovey three pens, Steffan Jones pen)
MUNSTER- Johne Murphy; Doug Howlett, Danny Barnes, Lifeimi Mafi, Denis Hurley; Ian Keatley, Peter Stringer; Marcus Horan, Mike Sherry, Stephen Archer; Billy Holland, Mick O’Driscoll; Peter O’Mahony (Capt), Niall Ronan, James Coughlan. Replacements: Wian du Preez for Horan (47 mins), Damien Varley for Sherry (56 mins), Duncan Williams for Stringer, Simon Zebo for Hurley (both 60 mins), John Hayes for Archer (66 mins), Mike Sherry for Zebo (70-78 mins).
DRAGONS- Steffan Jones; Adam Hughes, Tom Riley, Ashley Smith, Mike Poole; Jason Tovey, Joe Bedford; Phil Price, Tom Willis, Ben Castle; Adam Jones, Robert Sidoli; Andrew Coombs, Gavin Thomas, Tom Brown. Replacements: Pat Leach for Smith (38 mins), Hugo Ellis for Brown (half-time), Dan Way for Castle (51 mins), Martyn Thomas for Jones (64 mins),
REFEREE- Stefano Penne (Italy).