Pro14: Dragons 16-28 Munster

By Nick WebbBBC Sport Wales at Rodney Parade
Pro14: Dragons v Munster
Dragons (8) 16
Tries: S Davies, Screech Pens: S Davies 2
Munster (18) 28
Tries: Gallagher 2, Nash Cons: Hanrahan 2 Pens: Hanrahan 3

Dragons slipped to a 28-16 home defeat against Munster as the Irish side clocked up their fourth straight Pro14 win.

Sam Davies scored a try and two penalties for Dragons, while Matthew Screech grabbed a late consolation.

Early tries from Matt Gallagher and Calvin Nash gave the visitors control in the rain while Gallagher's second sealed it.

JJ Hanrahan kicked 13 points for Munster.

Dragons were under the leadership of backs coach Gordon Ross, the former Scotland fly-half taking over in the absence of director of rugby Dean Ryan who was one of several coaches forced to isolate after a colleague tested Covid-positive.

Despite the international absentees, a midfield match-up between Jamie Roberts and South African World Cup winner Damian de Allende provided some star quality - but it was the Munster man who spent more time going forward as Roberts had plenty of tackling to do.

Davies and Hanrahan exchanged early penalties before Gallagher, son of New Zealand full-back John, crossed in the corner after 14 minutes from John Hodnett's clever pass after a break by scrum-half Craig Casey.

Munster continued their momentum with a second penalty from Hanrahan who then converted a fine team try from winger Nash, running a good support line on the opposite side of the field after Darren Sweetnam ran on to a kick through from Rory Scannell.

An 18-3 visitors' lead looked ominous but Davies pounced for the Dragons' first try on 31 minutes, as Hanrahan failed to gather Rhodri Williams' cute chip with a penalty advantage.

A further exchange of Davies and Hanrahan penalties provided the only score of the third quarter, before Sweetnam had two touchdowns for Munster ruled out - one for offside, the second for a blatant block on defender Rhodri Williams.

The visitors were not to be denied and De Allende put Gallagher over on the overlap for his second after 71 minutes, Hanrahan converting.

The home side applied some late pressure and Screech forced his way over in the corner for a last-minute Dragons consolation try to mark his 150th appearance for the region.

Dragons backs coach Gordon Ross told BBC Sport Wales:

"I'm really proud of the group because last week in Ulster we struggled physically, I thought we really stood up to Munster and the physicality was excellent.

"But unfortunately with our energy we weren't composed enough on both sides of the ball, we gave away a few penalties that gave them easy outs, and when we had opportunities we weren't clinical enough.

"It's been tough at times (preparing without Dean Ryan and three other coaches), but the effort from the guys has been outstanding, everyone's been chipping in and doing other people's jobs to the best of their abilities.

"Our challenge is to do it again this week against Connacht and to do it better both as coaches, management and players."

Dragons: Josh Lewis; Owen Jenkins, Adam Warren, Jamie Roberts, Ashton Hewitt; Sam Davies, Rhodri Williams (capt); Brok Harris, Richard Hibbard, Lloyd Fairbrother, Joe Davies, Matthew Screech, Ben Fry, Harrison Keddie, Ollie Griffiths.

Replacements: Ellis Shipp, Conor Maguire, Aaron Jarvis, Ben Carter, Taine Basham, Tavis Knoyle, Jack Dixon, Dafydd Howells.

Munster: Matt Gallagher; Calvin Nash, Rory Scannell, Damian de Allende, Darren Sweetnam; JJ Hanrahan, Craig Casey; Josh Wycherley, Kevin O'Byrne, Keynan Knox, Jean Kleyn, Billy Holland (capt), Jack O'Donoghue, John Hodnett, Gavin Coombes.

Replacements: Diarmuid Barron, James Cronin, Stephen Archer, Thomas Ahern, Tommy O'Donnell, Nick McCarthy, Jake Flannery, Jack O'Sullivan.

Referee: Ben Blain (SRU)

Assistant Referees: Dan Jones, Aled Evans (both WRU)

TMO: Jon Mason (WRU)

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