Two second half tries from Denis Leamy, one of those converted by Ronan O’Gara who had kicked a first half penalty, saw Munster recover from a 7-3 half time deficit to overtake Dragons and end up 15-7 winners against Newport Gwent Dragons in front of a 4500+ crowd at Musgrave Park.
Overall it was a largely forgettable evening’s rugby, littered by error and it wasn’t until the visitors were reduced to 13 with the sin binning of Jamie Ringer and Michael Owen that Munster go their noses in front thanks to Leamy’s opening try.
In fairness both Welsh players merited their yellow cards while Marcus Horan might have been deemed a little unlucky to suffer similar sanction in a first half.
O’Gara kicked Munster in front with a penalty after 30 minutes but then the out-half lost possession and his opposite number Aled Thomas picked up to score under the posts and lave himself an easy conversion. Mind you Munster were themselves fortunate not to be further behind because Aled Brew, the most impressive back on view, very nearly scored on two occasions.
The first was when he kicked downfield from his own 22, outstripped the defence but then managed to kick the ball dead and moments later, again showing a clean pair of heels as he chased a kick, just failed to gather with the tryline at his mercy.
Ringer deaparted the scene soon after the restart and was shortly after joined by Owens for dangerously taking-out Mick O’Driscoll in the air at a five metre lineout. Munster used their superior numbers to shunt the Dragons back and Alan Quinlan looked to have scored a perfectly good try but was whistled back by referee Angus McPherson for a knock-on.
However their respite was brief and Leamy struck twice, at the end of the third and start of the fourth quarter, to earn his side victory.
Munster: C Cullen; I Dowling, B Murphy, L Mafi, B Carney (Lawlor 37 min) (B O’Meara 77 min); R O’Gara capt, T O’Leary; M Horan (F Pucciariello 62 min), F Sheahan, J Hayes; D O’Callaghan (D Wallace 58 min), M O’Driscoll; A Quinlan, D Leamy, J O’Sullivan.
Newport Gwent Dragons: M Thomas; R Fussell, P Emerick, P Dollman, A Brew (K Morgan 76 min); A Thomas, A Walker; A Black, B Daly (S Jones 69 min), R Thomas; A Hall (I Gough 69 min), P Sidoli; J Bearman, M Owen capt, J Ringer.
Referee: A MacPherson (Scotland).