A Frustrating Evening in Cork
The Dragons opened the first of their three consecutive games against Irish opposition this month with a frustrating first half against Munster, seeing us 24-3 down within just twenty-seven minutes.
Despite early competition and both outside-half’s trading penalties, Munster took an early lead with a try scored by attacking fullback Conway, converted by Munster Captain Blayendaal. This was then compounded by an intercept given by the Dragons in the Munster twenty-two, kicked on by Blayendaal and collected by Conway for his second. Frustrating, especially as the intercept try was conceded only a few phases after the Dragons were awarded a penalty advantage in the Munster 22. Weak defense saw us concede our third and we were 24-3 down with 13 minutes to turn things around before half time.
A period of sustained pressure in the opposition twenty two saw the Dragons build momentum despite one maul being deemed held up, a quick penalty being brought back by referee Adamson and we eventually scored a driving maul from the line out with Rhys Buckley scoring the try. However, the Dragons quickly negated this score and any good work done by Ollie Griffthis in defense with a try saving tackle within five meters of our line. The following phase saw Carl Meyer yellow carded for an intentional knock on. The ref also saw fit to give a penalty try which awarded Muster the bonus point on the stroke of half time, 31-10 to the good.
What was interesting was the way in which the former Scotland 7’s player, Mike Adamson, refereeing his third pro 12 Game, was twice directed by the television match official. Ollie Griffith was penalised in the first half, after a Munster forward had jumped in to the tackle, despite the ref initially awarding a scrum and secondly, the television match official had a large hand in recommending the penalty try on the turn of half time, in addition to Carl Meyer’s yellow card. However, it is pleasing to see another example of a former elite player taking up the whistle.
Not to take away from the Dragon’s efforts, Munster could smell blood and continued to press in the opening ten minutes of the second half whilst the Dragons were down to 14 men. Munster, who beat the Ospreys with same back line, held the bulk of possession and started to comfortably dictate the pace of the game, and always looked likely to score again in the second half.
Two players of notable mention for the Dragons were backrow duo Cudd and Griffiths, who were strong in defense. Alongside the ever consistent Cudd, Griffiths seems to be both capable of the ‘nuts and bolts’ at the coal face and covered the pitch with an engine and physicality that has seen him talked about as a young man with a big future in the game.
With Munster down to 14 men in the second half, the Dragons repeated their catch and drive from the first half with Elliot Dee scoring in the 59th minute, converted by Dorian Jones, 31-17. Kingsley Jones changed both halfbacks with 20 minutes to go in order to inject some pace into the game but it was all defense as the Dragons repelled numerous attacks on their line, following a clean break in midfield by Rory Scannell.
The fifth try was scored by 14 men Munster when prop Dave Kilcoyne used his size when fed off quick fourth phase from the line out to be driven over the line, converted by Blayendall. The Dragons never said die and continued to make chances in the last fifteen minutes, but chasing the game saw unforced errors which continue to frustrate. The game was put to bed by Ronan O’Mahony when he took a poor exit kick to slice through the heart of the Dragons backline. Unfortunately 45-17 is indicative of the strength in depth that has seen Munster climb to the top of the Pro 12 despite numerous international call-ups and left a spirited Dragons side found wanting.
Munster: A Conway (D Goggin), D Sweetnam (F Saili), J Taute (A Griesel), R Scannell, R O'Mahony, T Bleyendaal (captain), D Williams, D Kilcoyne (P McCabe), R Marshall (K O'Byrne), S Archer (B Scott), J Kleyn (C Oliver), D Foley (D O'Shea), D O'Callaghan, T O'Donnell, J O'Donoghue.
Dragons: C Meyer, A Hughes, T Morgan, A Warren (S Beard), P Howard, D Jones (A O'Brien), T Knoyle (S Pretorius), S Hobbs (T Davies), R Buckley (E Dee), B Harris (L Fairbrother), M Screech (N Crosswell), R Landman, O Griffiths, N Cudd (H Keddie), L Evans (captain).