Munster's poor start to the BKT United Rugby Championship season has continued, after they fell to a 23-17 defeat to the Dragons, losing to the Welsh region for the first time since 2015.
The hosts put their off-field troubles behind them to record their first win at Rodney Parade for over 18 months, leaving Munster boss Graham Rowntree still looking for his first win, after four defeats in a row across pre-season and the URC.
With Dragons director of rugby, Dean Ryan, reported to have departed after three years in the post, it was left to head coach, Dai Flanagan, to pick up a win in his first home game in charge.
They had to rely on a superb individual try from Rio Dyer for the victory with former Munster out-half JJ Hanrahan kicking six penalties.
Rio Dyer's fine solo try has turned the game back in Dragons' favour, with the clock ticking— RTÉ Rugby (@RTErugby) September 25, 2022
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Munster's tries came from Stephen Archer and Ben Healy, with the latter adding two conversions and a penalty.
A simple penalty from Healy gave Munster an early lead but Hanrahan nullified this with a more difficult effort from 50 metres.
Munster then suffered a double injury blow when Keith Earls and Jean Kleyn left the field simultaneously before receiving further setbacks when Hanrahan kicked four penalties in quick succession to put the Welsh region firmly in the driving seat.
Munster were rattled as a Dragons pack, led by the ferocious efforts of former Ulster hooker Bradley Roberts and Wales international Ross Moriarty, tore into them, causing them to turn over possession on a regular basis.
However, despite struggling for the majority of the first half, the visitors recovered to score the first try when Healy made a sharp break to send Simon Zebo away down the left flank. The wing was brought down by a high tackle from Dyer with a penalty awarded.
Stephen Archer gets over from close range to score Munster's opening try at Rodney Parade— RTÉ Rugby (@RTErugby) September 25, 2022
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It was taken quickly for Archer to crash over with the referee also yellow-carding Dyer for the earlier high challenge.
Moments later, Munster capitalised on Dyer’s absence when Healy evaded a tackle from Rhodri Williams for an easy run-in which the outside half converted to leave his side with a 17-15 half-time advantage.
HT: Dragons 15-17 Munster— RTÉ Rugby (@RTErugby) September 25, 2022
Munster were bang average for a half an hour, but Ben Healy's try and conversation has them ahead at the break at Rodney Parade
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Four minutes after the restart, with Dyer still in the sin-bin, Dragons blew a golden opportunity to go back in front when they chose a scrum instead of allowing Hanrahan to kick a simple penalty.
The third quarter finished scoreless as the home side declined to take two further chances to kick penalties.
With 11 minutes remaining, Hanrahan had his chance but surprisingly missed with a 40-metre kick but it mattered little as Dyer powered away on a 55-metre run to evade defenders for a splendid individual try.
Dragons fans roared on their heroes and their cause was helped by Munster’s flanker, Jack O’Donoghue, being yellow-carded, with Hanrahan sealing victory with the last kick of the match.
Additional reporting: PA
Dragons: Angus O'Brien; Rio Dyer, Sio Tomkinson, Jack Dixon, Ashton Hewitt; JJ Hanrahan, Rhodri Williams; Aki Seiuli, Bradley Roberts, Lloyd Fairbrother; George Nott, Will Rowlands (capt); Sean Lonsdale, Taine Basham, Ross Moriarty
Replacements: Elliot Dee, Rob Evans, Chris Coleman, Ben Carter, Aaron Wainwright, Lewis Jones, Max Clark, Jordan Williams
Munster: Mike Haley; Keith Earls, Malakai Fekitoa, Dan Goggin, Simon Zebo; Ben Healy, Craig Casey; Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell, Stephen Archer; Jean Kleyn, Fineen Wycherley; Jack O'Donoghue, Peter O'Mahony (capt), Jack O'Sullivan
Replacements: Scott Buckley, Liam O'Connor, Keynan Knox, Edwin Edogbo, Tadhg Beirne, Paddy Patterson, Joey Carbery, Liam Coombes
Referee: Sam Grove-White (SRU)