A STRONG final quarter rally from a youthful Munster side couldn’t prevent Rob Penney’s side from suffering a 30-24 defeat to the Dragons in their RaboDirect PRO12 clash at Rodney Parade.
Coach Penney retained just three players from Munster’s narrow loss to Leinster the previous weekend as the province’s focus switched to this Saturday’s big Heineken Cup semi-final showdown with Clermont Auvergne.
Dragons full-back Tom Prydie was one of the stars of the show, adding 17 with the boot.
Munster refused to throw in the towel after the break and produced a much-improved display as debutant Ronan O’Mahony, CJ Stander and Johne Murphy all touched down to add to Paddy Butler’s first-half try but it wasn’t enough for the Heineken Cup semi-finalists.
Munster led 5-3 after 17 minutes, thanks to a Paddy Butler try.
Just a minute later Prydie restored the Dragons lead with a penalty, before the home side extended their advantage after Jones went over for a score for a 13-5 lead.
Another Prydie penalty in the 48th minutes saw the Welsh region stretch further clear and Munster looked in danger of shipping a heavy defeat.
However, Garryowen winger O’Mahony dragged Munster back into the game as he went over for a try on 58 minutes. Munster threw everything at the Dragons in the last quarter as firstly Stander touched down, with Keatley adding the extras. And incredibly Munster got their noses in front with eight minutes to go, through a Johne Murphy try, converted by Ian Keatley. However, a late Dragons try from Ross Wardle and a fifth penalty from Prydie guided the home side to victory.
SCORERS – Dragons: Steffan Jones, Ross Wardle try each, Tom Prydie five pens, one con. Munster: Johne Murphy two tries, Ronan O’Mahony, CJ Stander try each, Ian Keatley two cons.
MUNSTER – Denis Hurley; Ronan O’Mahony, Ivan Dineen, JJ Hanrahan, Johne Murphy; Ian Keatley, Cathal Sheridan; Wian du Preez, Damien Varley, Stephen Archer, David Foley, Billy Holland, David O’Callaghan, Niall Ronan, Paddy Butler. Replacements: John Ryan for Archer (37-40 mins, 59 mins), Danny Barnes for Hanrahan, Duncan Williams for Sheridan (both 51 mins), Ian Nagle for Holland, CJ Stander for Butler (both 61 mins), Marcus Horan for du Preez (69 mins), Sean Henry for Varley (75 mins).