O’Connell returns as Munster beat the Dragons

Colm Kinsella

Reporter:

Colm Kinsella

James Cronin, Munster, celebrates after scoring his side's first try against Dragons on Saturday
MUNSTER recorded a timely 23-9 victory over Dragons at Musgrave Park on Saturday nigh ahead of next weekend’s marquee RaboDirect PRO12 clash with arch rivals Leinster.

MUNSTER recorded a timely 23-9 victory over Dragons at Musgrave Park on Saturday nigh ahead of next weekend’s marquee RaboDirect PRO12 clash with arch rivals Leinster.

Tries in either half from James Cronin and Peter O’Mahony helped Rob Penney’s men bounce back to winning ways following their dramatic collapse against Treviso eight days earlier.

Munster also received a major boost ahead of Saturday’s home tie with Leinster as both second row Paul O’Connell and full-back Felix Ryan returned to action after injury lay-offs. Both players were introduced as second half replacements. O’Connell had not played since breaking a bone in his arm on the Lions tour in Australia in June. Jones was making his first appearance since April after having shoulder surgery during the summer.

Munster’s 13-6 half time advantage came courtesy of James Cronin’s 34th minute try when the powerful prop powered his way over from close range. Hanrahan duly added the extras to go with two earlier peanlties.

A Peter O’Mahony try in the 52nd minute, when the Dragons had two players in the sin-bin, helped Munster into a commanding 20-3 lead. Out-half JJ Hanrahan added a further penalty goal to finish with 13 points in all.

Saturday’s PRO12 tie with Leinster at Thomond Park (6.45pm) is followed by Heineken Cup fixtures away to Edinburgh and at home to Gloucester.

SCORERS: Munster: James Cronin, Peter O’Mahony try each, JJ Hanrahan three pens, two cons. Dragons: Kristopher Burton two pens.

MUNSTER – Johne Murphy; Andrew Conway, Keith Earls, Ivan Dineen, Simon Zebo; JJ Hanrahan, Cathal Sheridan; James Cronin, Damien Varley, John Ryan, Donncha O’Callaghan, David Foley, Peter O’Mahony (capt), Sean Dougall, Paddy Butler. Replacements: (all used) Mike Sherry, David Kilcoyne, Stephen Archer, Paul O’Connell, CJ Stander, Duncan Williams, Ian Keatley, Felix Jones.

NEWPORT GWENT DRAGONS – Dan Evans; Matthew Pewtner, Ross Wardle, Jack Dixon, Tom Prydie; Kris Burton, Jonathan Evans; Phil Price, Hugh Gustafson, Francisco Chaparro, Andrew Coombs (capt), Matthew Screech, Jevon Groves, Lewis Evans, Netani Talei. Replacements: (all used) Sam Parry, Owen Evans, Dan Way, Rob Sidoli, Ieuan Jones, Richie Rees, Jason Tovey, Adam Hughes.

REF – Neil Paterson (Scotland)