I was hoping that Peter – a Welsh Munster supporter and regular commenter on this blog – could explain what the Dragons coach Kingsley Jones meant when he twice referred to Munster trying to piggyback when he was interviewed during the first half but he cannot! Was it about Munster piggy-backing as in taking advantage of mistakes by the Dragons or a reference as some on twitter suggested to the referee? I thought it was too good a line to ignore as a blog title anyway so hopefully all will be revealed soon. Maybe it was a literal translation of a Welsh expression.
S4C conducted interviews during the game with Mick O’Driscoll, the aforementioned Kingsley Jones and even with Rob Howley during the second half about preparations for the next Six Nations.
Dragons scored first, from an early penalty for not rolling away to make it 3-0 within 2 minutes. Rory Scannell equalised after 13 minutes. Shane Buckley made a super break a few minutes later but Killer got isolated and possession was turned over.
Credit to Ronan O’Mahony for an amazing “pick and go” after 20 minutes, Munster were in possession on their own 22m line. Ronan noticed a gap between the two Dragons defenders through which he managed to scamper and sprint clear.
When tackled he presented the ball back to his supporting players. Mark Chisholm played scrum-half, getting the ball to Dave O’Callaghan who got a super pass away to Simon Zebo as he took the tackle and thereby took out two defenders. Zebo charged into their 22, Prydie tackled him before the line and I thought had released him but the referee and TMO called it as a double movement / held in the tackle and the superb break came to nothing but a 5m penalty for Dragons.
However, just minutes later Munster won another penalty which put them back into the Dragons half. The lineout was claimed by Dave Foley and quickly transferred to Tomas O’Leary. Denis Hurley offloaded to Scannell as he was tackled which created a bit of space for Rory to exploit before he in turn offloaded when tackled. Ronan O’Mahony was in support and accelerated away. Amorosino was next to carry and it looked like he got white line fever as he thought he would beat his man despite having Zebo in support. However Lucas could not ground the ball as the defender #7 Nic Cudd turned him onto his back and another excellent chance went abeggin’.
Jones converted another penalty to edge Dragons back into the lead. Munster carelessly lost possession of the ball from their scrum in their own half and nearly paid a high price as the ball was swung out wide to their fullback Meyer who would have scored if Zebo had not managed to barge him into touch. Later Dragons went offside and Rory Scannell stepped up to take the penalty and draw the teams level again.
Dragons finished the half strongly and could well have scored again before the break but the referee had to stop play for what looked like a serious injury to Lewis Evans and then instead of restarting he blew up the half as the clock had gone red.
The stats show why I don’t have many highlights from the 2nd half as the Dragons dominance continued! James decided that a Mexican wave by the front row of the MRSC Dublin gang gathered in the River Bar would liven up proceedings but thankfully it did not take off!
Dragons scored first again, this time with a drop-goal to make it 9-6. I recall a great turnover by Robin Copeland who was on his feet and competing for the ball while Ronan O’Mahony was lucky not to be badly injured when taken out in the air after 50 minutes. As the tackler Hewitt was not contesting for the ball he could have been carded for that offence.
A few minutes later Ronan O’Mahony was floored again when blocked as he chased a garryowen but Tyler Bleyendaal missed that penalty opportunity. It is good to see Tyler has recovered from the quad injury which has kept him on the sidelines for some weeks. Also back after a longer injury lay-off was Billy Holland who has been out of action since the Emerging Nations Cup in June.
Just before the hour mark, in a lovely piece of athleticism, Tomas O’Leary dived in as their 9 weighed up his options at the back of a ruck just after the referee had warned him to “use it.” Pretorius got his own back with a super break from the back of the scrum shortly after but Munster scrambled back and cleared the danger that time. Another penalty after 64 minutes enabled the Dragons to extend their lead to 12-6.
Just as Dorian Jones was announced as Man of the Match and James was anticipating his jackpot (for having pulled the #10 out of the hat for the first try scorer or when none the person who drew MOTM wins the kitty worth €30 today) Dragons had another effort to score a try and this time they were successful! Zebo had broken the defensive line to attempt an intercept which could have snatched victory at the death but instead it was their second row Rynard Landman who scored to deny Munster even a losing bonus point. Jason Tovey converted a penalty at the death to extend their score to 22 points.
It’s going to be a long week with a tough video analysis session following Munster’s biggest defeat of the season. On the positive side Ronan O’Mahony looks to be back to his best and Shane Buckley made the most of his opportunity. It is also good for both Scannell brothers to get more Pro12 experience given the injuries at 2, 10/12.
Munster has a lot of history with Leicester and I hope the team rise to the occasion on Saturday and put in the type of performance we have been hoping for all season. This is the time for them to stand up and fight and for the 16th man, woman and child to get behind them and ensure the Leicester players experience the kind of atmosphere we often save for the auld enemy! Be red, be loud, be proud!
There is enough doom and gloom in the print and social media, let’s not get pulled down by headlines such as “Dragons cruise by dismal Munster at Rodney Parade” and “Munster’s slide continues as they fall to another Pro12 defeat”
Updated Dec 8 to add this gem from the Indo: “There was a time when you didn’t need to check the pulse of a Munster fan. Now it’s difficult to find much signs of life.” Let’s make him eat his words on Saturday! Time to #SUAF
NEWPORT GWENT DRAGONS: C Meyer; T Prydie, A Hughes, A Warren, A Hewitt; D Jones, Sl Pretorius; P Price, TRhys Thomas capt, B Harris, M Screech, R Landman, L Evans, N Cudd, T Faletau.
Replacements: R Buckley, S Knight, L Fairbrother, C Hill, E Jackson, C Davies, J Tovey, R Wardle.
MUNSTER: L Gonzalez Amorosino; R O’Mahony, D Johnston, D Hurley capt, S Zebo; R Scannell, T O’Leary; D Kilcoyne, N Scannell, J Ryan, D Foley, M Chisholm, S Buckley, D O’Callaghan, R Copeland.
Replacements: K O’Byrne, J Cronin, M Sagario, B Holland, J Coghlan, C Sheridan, T Bleyendaal, G Van den Heever.