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Dublin: 16 °C Wednesday 17 July, 2019


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Join us for all of the action from Thomond Park as Munster take on the Dragons in the RaboDirect Pro12.

As always, we’d love to hear from you, so send us your thoughts and comments on all the action.

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Munster 33-13 Dragons (FT)

Good evening and welcome to our live coverage of tonight’s Pro12 clash between Munster and the Dragons in Thomond Park.

Here’s how Munster will line out:

Munster: I Keatley; D Howlett capt, K Earls, J Downey, S Zebo; R O’Gara, P Stringer; M Horan, M Sherry, BJ Botha, Donncha O’Callaghan, B Holland; Dave O’Callaghan, N Ronan, P Butler.Replacements: D Varley, W du Preez, S Archer, D Foley, T O’Donnell, C Murray, D Barnes, JJ Hanrahan.

And here are the Dragons:

Dragons: Dan Evans, Will Harries , Adam Hughes, Ashley Smith, Tom Prydie, Lewis Robling, Jonathan Evans; Phil Price, Steve Jones (c), Dan Way, Ian Nimmo, Adam Jones, Dan Lydiate, Jevon Groves, Tom Brown. Replacements: Sam Parry, Aaron Coundley, Tim Ryan, Toby Faletau Lewis Evans, Liam Davies, Andy Tuilagi. Pat Leach.

KICK OFF: Following a moving minute’s silence for Nevin Spence and the Spence family, we’re underway.

Munster 7-0 Dragons (3 mins): A wonderful passing move from the hosts is finished off by Keatley diving over the line in the corner.

O’Gara converts confidently thereafter.

It’s been scrappy from both sides since that try, and very stop-start.


Munster 14-0 Dragons (14 mins): Earls passes to Zebo, who accelerates towards the line and shows the defender a dummy, before passing to Niall Ronan, who dives over for an easy try.

Again, O’Gara makes a difficult conversion look easy.

Munster 14-3 Dragons (15 mins): Tom Prydie with an immediate response, in the form of a well-executed penalty.

Meanwhile, Donncha O’Callaghan has been sin-binned for an off-the-ball incident.

With Zebo impressing, and Macken and Carr also looking very good for Leinster this evening, the future really does look bright as far as Irish backs are concerned.

It is now the Dragons’ turn to apply some pressure on their opponents.

They have a scrum in the Munster 22.

Tom Prydie drags his kick horribly to the left, as the Dragons waste an opportunity to cut the deficit.

Meanwhile, O’Callaghan is back on the field for Munster.

As was the case in the Leinster game, the player’s observed a minute’s silence for Nevin Spence prior to kick-off.

It hasn’t been a perfect display from Munster by any means, but there’s no denying that the style of rugby which Rob Penney has introduced is often thrilling to watch.

And when it comes off, as it has at times for Munster tonight, it’s highly effective too.

While the Dragons have come into this game more as the half has progressed, Munster still look relatively comfortable when defending.

One minute until half-time…

Munster 14-6 Dragons (40 mins): Tom Prydie kicks a relatively easy penalty over, after Munster are penalised for collapsing the scrum.


So, a relatively encouraging first-half display from Munster.

Despite a few errors creeping into their gane towards the latter part of the half, they’ve been very impressive in attack at times.

There is no doubt that Rob Penney wants them to play an attractive brand of rugby, and talented players such as Simon Zebo are clearly benefitting from this style.

The Dragons, meanwhile, have been ordinary enough so far, but still remain very much in this game, owing to those two Prydie penalties.

The second half has begun…

Munster’s start to the second half isn’t quite as impressive as the one in the first, nonetheless they do now have a scrum deep in Dragons territory.

The Dragons’ Dan Way has been sin-binned for coming in from the side.

Can Munster capitalise with the ensuing five-metre scrum?

Conor Murray replaces Peter Stringer, as Munster continue to apply heavy pressure on their opponents.


Munster 19-6 Dragons: The sustained pressure eventually tells, as Conor Murray collects the ball from the scrum, sells his marker a dummy all too easily, and runs over for a try, in what is virtually his first act since coming on.

O’Gara hits the post with the subsequent conversion.


Munster 26-6 Dragons: Great running in the build-up from Keatley, before Earls offloads to Zebo, who runs over for the try his performance deserves.

O’Gara gets the conversion this time.


Munster 26-13 Dragons: Dan Evans gets between Murray and Downey to run over for a try that’s surely too little, too late for the Dragons.

Robling then coverts with aplomb.

Horan, Sherry, Holland and Zebo have come off for Munster, while Varley, Du Preez, Foley and Barnes have been introduced into the action.

Just under 15 minutes remain.

Try-saving tackle from Keith Earls, who shows great pace to get back and prevent what looked a certain try.

Who says he can’t defend?


Munster 33-13 Dragons: Tommy O’Donnell finishes off another lovely flowing move from Munster, using all his strength to power over the line despite the attentions of the Dragons defence.

As his last act before going off, O’Gara adds the icing on the cake with a conversion.

Keith Earls, who has looked good tonight, played a significant role in that try, with an excellent break in the build-up.

Keith Earls has been named the Man of the Match, much to the delight of the home crowd.


Ultimately, on the basis of that performance, Munster are a work in progress, but a promising one at that.

Moments where the game went totally flat and errors started to appear in Munster’s play, were combined with some excellent attacking rugby from the Irish side.

The Dragons simply could not cope with the fluency of Munster’s play at its best, and overall, Rob Penney should be relatively satisfied with his men.

From the Irish team’s perspective, both Keith Earls and Simon Zebo caught the eye in attack.

Keith Earls says Rob Penney’s regime has been “really positive” so far and claims he is just happy to have “put his hand up for selection next week”.

Right, that’s all folks.

Thanks for your company. It’s been a pleasure as always.

About the author:

Paul Fennessy