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Hanrahan kicks 18 points as Dragons earn first win over Munster in seven years

It’s back-to-back defeats for Munster to start the season after a very poor showing at Rodney Parade.

JJ Hanrahan in action against his former club.
JJ Hanrahan in action against his former club.
Image: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Dragons 23

Munster 17

Steffan Thomas reports from Rodney Parade

JJ HANRAHAN CAME back to haunt Munster with his 18-point haul condemning Graham Rowntree’s side to their first defeat to the Dragons in seven years.

Munster were out-muscled by the hungrier Welsh club who won the collisions ,and as a result, won the game. The Irish province remain winless this season following their opening round defeat to Cardiff and must bounce back against Zebre next weekend.

Ben Healy gave Munster an early lead, but they were rattled by a ferocious and determined Dragons pack during the opening exchanges. The Welsh club took the battle to Munster in the first half with the likes of Wales internationals Will Rowlands and Ross Moriarty making dents with their carries.

Munster were dealt two early injury blows with both Jean Kleyn and Keith Earls forced from the field of play but it did mean a first appearance of the season for Tadhg Beirne. But the Dragons weren’t just building pressure they were adding to the scoreboard with Hanrahan booting the hosts into a 12-3 lead.

As the game moved towards half-time Munster were doing nothing more than holding on with the Dragons’ carriers breaking their defence twice. The first time George Nott charged down the touchline, and then former Ulster hooker Bradley Roberts exploded 40 metres down the centre of the pitch. Munster were forced to infringe at the breakdown which allowed Hanrahan to extend their lead even further.

But Munster hit straight back with Healey’s break setting Simon Zebo clear. Zebo raced towards the line but was tackled high by Rio Dyer who was sent to the sin bin as a result. Craig Casey opted to take the penalty quickly, and it paid off with Stephen Archer powering over for a try.

Healy added the extras and Munster were soon celebrating their second try when Casey took advantage of their maul dominance with a pop pass to put Healy over for another score. Healy converted to send Munster into the changing rooms holding onto a 17-15 lead despite having been second best for 35 minutes.

Hanrahan had an opportunity to put his side ahead with 10 minutes but hooked his kick wide. But the Welsh club finally turned pressure into points with a stunning individual try from Dyer who broke through the Munster defence before showing tremendous pace to run in unopposed from 45 metres out.

Munster tried desperately to somehow salvage this game but were turned over deep in the Dragons 22′. But instead of clearing their lines the Dragons attacked from deep with Dyer skinning the Munster defence before finding Max Clarke. The centre was stopped in his tracks, but Munster paid the price when Jack O’Donoghue got yellow carded for killing the ball at the breakdown.

And Hanrahan sealed Munster’s face with a late penalty.

Dragons: A O’Brien; R Dyer, S Tomkinson (M Clarke 69), J Dixon, A Hewitt; JJ Hanrahan, R Williams; A Seiuli (R Evans 58), B Roberts (E Dee 58), L Fairbrother (C Coleman 53), G Nott (B Carter 53), W Rowlands, S Lonsdale (A Wainwright 62), T Basham, R Moriarty.

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Replacements not used: L Jones, J Williams.

Munster: M Haley; K Earls (L Coombes 13), D Goggin, M Fekitoa, S Zebo; B Healy (J Carbery 58), C Casey (P Patterson 60); D Kilcoyne (L O’Connor 58), N Scannell, S Archer (K Knox 58), J Kleyn (T Beirne 13), F Wycherley (E Edogbo 58), J O’Donoghue, P O’Mahony, J O’Sullivan.

Replacements not used: S Buckley.

Attendance: 4,269

Referee: Sam Grove-White (Scotland)

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