An early converted try from captain Anthony Foley set Munster on their way to a 10-8 defeat of the Dragons at Musgrave Park - a result which sent them back to the top of the Celtic League table.
CELTIC LEAGUE: Saturday, January 28
MUNSTER 10 NEWPORT-GWENT DRAGONS 8, Musgrave Park (Att: 5,000)
Scorers: Munster: Try: Anthony Foley; Con: Mossie Lawlor; Pen: Lawlor
Dragons: Try: Adam Black; Pen: Craig Warlow
Munster clambered back to the top of the Celtic League table, beating the Dragons after a dogged duel.
The province failed to build on the foundation of a third-minute try from captain Foley. The Dragons forwards boasted a particularly effective maul and their hard work kept the result in doubt right until the finish in Cork.
However, a stalemate ensued on the scoreboard after Dragons prop Adam Black's try in the tenth minute - fly halves Mossie Lawlor and Craig Warlow could only add a penalty apiece for their respective sides.
Munster included only Foley and backs Shaun Payne, Ian Dowling and Barry Murphy from the starting line-up for last Saturday's memorable Heineken Cup win against Sale.
But the men in red almost effortlessly carried on from their Shark attack, putting Foley over in the opening skirmishes. The Dragons scrum was disrupted in midfield, Lawlor took the ball on, Gary Connolly did well in support and Foley crashed over to the left of the posts.
Lawlor added the conversion, but the Welsh region, smarting from two Heineken Cup defeats by Munster in the past three months, soon got the bit between their teeth.
After Rhys Thomas had been unfortunate not to be awarded a try, his front row colleague Black ferreted over the line under Foley's last-ditch tackle to score. Warlow's touchline conversion faded to the left and wide.
Munster took control of possession for the second quarter - a 30-metre run from Connolly saw the Dragons defence scattered, but still hold firm.
Lawlor then tagged on a 28th-minute penalty before Mick O'Driscoll, sent free down the right flank, barged past Ben Breeze on a hair-raising gallop, but Jamie Ringer recovered well to push the Munster lock into touch at the right corner flag.
The sin binning of Dragons lock Peter Sidoli for preventing a quick release, two minutes before the break, handed Munster a man advantage but they failed to add to their 10-5 half-time lead.
If anything, it inspired Paul Turner's visitors - Dragons captain Jason Forster was centimetres away from netting their second try from a 50th-minute maul.
Munster lost winger Dowling to a yellow card, moments later, for a deliberate knock on from a Black pass, but despite adding a 64th-minute penalty through Warlow, the Dragons could not deny the league's pace-setters.
MUNSTER - Shaun Payne; Ian Dowling, Barry Murphy, Trevor Halstead, Anthony Horgan; Mossie Lawlor, Tomas O'Leary; Frankie Roche (Tony Buckley 66), Denis Fogarty, Federico Pucciariello, Trevor Hogan, Mick O'Driscoll, Stephen Keogh, Johnny O'Connor (Anthony Kavanagh 72), Anthony Foley (capt).
DRAGONS - Aled Thomas; Richard Fussell, Sione Tuipulotu (Jon Bryant 76), Ceri Sweeney, Ben Breeze; Craig Warlow, Gareth Cooper; Adam Black (David Maddocks 72), Steve Jones, Rhys Thomas, Bryn Griffiths (Andrew Hall 62), Peter Sidoli, Jamie Ringer, Jason Forster (capt), Rhys Oakley (Shawn Van Rensburg 62).
Sin Bin: Sidoli (Dragons) (38 minutes), Dowling (Munster) (52)
Referee: Malcolm Changleng (Scotland)