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Munster get Pro14 campaign off to winning start with bonus point victory against Dragons
Johann van Graan’s side carved out a deserved win despite having a dozen players in Japan.

Munster 39

Dragons 9

John Fallon reports from Thomond Park

WINTRY CONDITIONS PREVAILED at Thomond Park but Munster did all that was required of them to get their Pro14 campaign up and running with a bonus point win.

A crowd of just under 6,000 — official attendance of 10,878 included season ticket holders — saw Johann van Graan’s men take control and carve out a deserved success despite having a dozen players in Japan.

shane-daly-scores-a-try Tommy Dickson / INPHO Shane Daly scores a try for Munster. Tommy Dickson / INPHO / INPHO

Munster recovered from a slow start to take charge at Thomond Park and take a commanding 22-9 lead into the break.

Johann van Graan’s men capitalized when Dragons hooker Richard Hibbard was sinbinned after half an hour for a dangerous tackle on Jack O’Donoghue.

Munster, having got the opening try from Arno Botha to lead 10-6, pushed on with the extra man before the break.

A penalty to touch was pushed infield through the phases for O’Donoghue to stretch through under the posts, with JJ Hanrahan’s conversion making it 17-6.

sam-davies-is-tackled-by-mike-haley Tommy Dickson / INPHO Sam Davies is tackled by Mike Haley. Tommy Dickson / INPHO / INPHO

The winger Shane Daly, who got two tries against Connacht last week, chipped and gathered down the left wing.

Sam Davies reduced the gap to 13 points at the interval when he landed his third penalty of the half.

Hanarahan extended Munster’s lead with a penalty shortly after the restart and they defended their line well and held Dragons scoreless while full-back Mike Haley was in the bin for a tackle on winger Owen Jenkins.

Munster wrapped up the bonus point when Rory Scannell broke to set up a chance which was finished under the posts by Tyler Bleyendaal on the hour.

And Munster finished in style when Academy hooker Diarmuid Barron scored his first try after another good drive off a lineout to the corner.

Munster scorers:

Tries: Arno Botha, Jack O’Donoghue, Shane Daly, Tyler Bleyendaal, Diarmuid Barron.

Penalties: JJ Hanrahan 2 (from 2)

Conversions: Hanrahan 4 (from 5)

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Dragons scorers:

Penalties: Sam Davies 3 (from 3)

MUNSTER: Mike Haley; Darren Sweetnam, Rory Scannell, Tyler Bleyendaal (Liam Coombes ‘63), Shane Daly; JJ Hanrahan, Nick McCarthy (Alby Mathewson ‘61); Jeremy Loughman (James Cronin ‘61), Kevin O’Byrne (Diarmuid Barron ‘72), Stephen Archer (Keynan Knox ‘66); Fineen Wycherley, Billy Holland (Darren O’Shea ‘19); Jack O’Donoghue (Jack O’Sullivan ’72), Tommy O’Donnell (Chris Cloete ‘66), Arno Botha.

DRAGONS: Jordan Williams; Ashton Hewitt (Jacob Botica ‘60), Adam Warren, Jack Dixon (Tyler Morgan ‘18), Owen Jenkins; Sam Davies, Rhodri Williams (Tavis Knoyle ‘72); Brok Harris (Ryan Bevington ‘56), Richard Hibbard, Leon Brown (Lloyd Fairbrother ‘66); Joe Davies (Max Williams ‘65), Matthew Screech; Huw Taylor (Taine Basham ‘70), Ollie Griffiths (Ellis Shipp ‘72) , Lewis Evans.

Referee: Ben Blain [SRU].

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