Munster 20-12 Dragons

Mick O'Driscoll tackles Gavin Thomas
Munster's Mick O'Driscoll tackles Gavin Thomas of the Dragons at Musgrave Park

Holders Munster opened their Pro12 League campaign with a deserved victory over the Dragons at Musgrave Park.

Steffan Jones and Ian Keatley swapped penalties in a poor opening quarter before Johne Murphy's run set up Danny Barnes for a superb 26th-minute try.

Lifeimi Mafi's score extend Munster's lead to 17-6 at the break with Jason Tovey notching another Dragons penalty.

Tovey punished three Munster's yellow cards with two more penalties but Keatley's late kick made the game safe.

The Dragons were opening their Pro12 campaign with summer recruits Tom Brown and Joe Bedford making their first competitive starts for the club.

New Dragons captain Luke Charteris was one of five players away with Wales while Munster were without nine first-choice players because of World Cup commitments.

Both teams struggled to produce any fluency in a turgid opening 20 minutes.

After Keatley missed a straightforward penalty chance, Jones opened the scoring with a huge kick from inside his own half.

But Munster were on terms straight from the restart with Keatley slotting the penalty after the Dragons had transgressed in a ruck.

The match really came to life when Barnes notched Munster's opening try in the 26th minute after Keatley had broken from deep in his own half and found a charging Johne Murphy, who skipped past two tackles before setting up the centre for a simple finish.

Keatley added the extras and he was doing the same again 11 minutes later after Billy Holland gathered Mike Sherry's long line-out throw and found Denis Hurley, who set up Mafi to score under the posts.

Tovey's penalty cut Munster's lead to 17-6 at the break but the home side were in control.

The Dragons had Ben Castle sin-binned immediately after the restart but Munster suffered from indiscipline during the remainder of the contest as try-scorer Mafi, Peter O'Mahony and replacement Damien Varley were all yellow carded.

Two Tovey penalties left only a score between the teams with 21 minutes left as the Dragons had a two-man advantage at one stage - without ever threatening the Munster line.

But Munster's nerves were eased by Keatley's 74th-minute penalty as the home side held on to win.


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, Niall Ronan, James Coughlan.

Replacements: Simon Zebo for Hurley 62, Duncan Williams for Stringer 62, Wian Du Preez for Horan 47, Damien Varley for Sherry 57, John Hayes for Archer 67

Not used: Dave Foley, Tommy O'Donnell, Scott Deasy.

Newport Gwent 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: Martyn Thomas for S Jones 65, Pat Leach for Smith 39, Dan Way for Castle 52, Hugo Ellis for Brown 43.

Not used: Rhys Buckley, Nathan Williams, Jevon Groves, Wayne Evans.

Referee: Stefano Penne (FIR)