/ Rugby

Newport Gwent Dragons 14-24 Munster

Updated: Saturday, 03 Mar 2012 22:16

Munster fly-half Ian Keatley in action at Rodney Parade
Munster fly-half Ian Keatley in action at Rodney Parade

Munster climbed to second in the RaboDirect Pro12 table after securing a 24-14 win over Newport Gwent Dragons at Rodney Parade.

Tony McGahan’s charges leapt over the Ospreys and stretched away from the chasing pack in the race for the play-offs thanks to a late surge in Newport.

The visitors scored 15 points in the last 12 minutes to secure the win and ensure the Dragons did not get a losing bonus point for their efforts.

Munster, without a sizeable international contingent, settled quickly and opened the scoring with a third-minute penalty from fly-half Ian Keatley.

But the Dragons worked their way into the game and deservedly levelled the scoring thanks to a penalty from opposite number Lewis Robling on 17 minutes.

The hosts were soon in front when a marvellous 50-metre jinking run by full-back Will Harries allowed centre Ashley Smith to dive over to make it 8-3.

However, the conversion was wide and it was the Irish visitors that soon got their noses back in front thanks to a pair of Keatley penalties.

Back came the Dragons and Robling knocked over another penalty to edge the hosts in front in an error-strewn encounter, an 11-9 lead that they held at the break.

The hosts were having the better of things in possession and territory but were unable to break clear of a resilient Munster side.

The Dragons suffered a blow when centre Andy Tuilagi limped off the field and was replaced by 17-year-old Jack Dixon, who last year became the youngest player to turn out in Welsh regional rugby in the LV= Cup win against Wasps.

And the teenager nearly had a dream introduction to the Pro12 when he featured prominently in a dashing 60-metre move that was ended agonisingly close to the line.

Once again Munster had escaped, but they were under severe pressure when scrum-half Tomas O'Leary was sin-binned on 58 minutes after referee Carlo Damasco got fed up with the visitors infringing at the breakdown.

The Dragons kicked a penalty to the corner and laid siege to the Irish province's line.

Munster defended heroically and next time the Dragons earned a penalty they went for the posts with Robling successfully making it 14-9 with 15 minutes remaining.

However, it was not a lead that they held for long. Replacement Denis Hurley went flying through a gaping hole in midfield and the ball was worked wide from the next phase for fellow wing Luke O'Dea to dash over down the right.

Replacement fly-half Scott Deasy missed the conversion but was accurate minutes later when presented with a 40-metre penalty to put the visitors 17-14 up with 72 minutes on the clock.

And it was game over with five minutes left when full-back Felix Jones snaffled a loose ball in midfield to race over under the posts, Deasy adding the routine extras for a hard-earned win.

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