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Munster Maintain Early Season Pace

Munster Maintain Early Season Pace

Munster came from behind to secure their first league win on Welsh soil since November 2005 as they handed Newport Gwent Dragons their third successive defeat of the new Magners League campaign.

Munster gained another morale-boosting win, six days after beating the Scarlets at home, with out-half Paul Warwick once again in match-winning form. He scored 16 points, including a 79th-minute intercept try, with winger Ian Dowling and flanker Billy Holland also touching down.

The Dragons recovered from a poor start to grab a try through replacement scrum half Wayne Evans and his half-back partner Aled Thomas tagged on 11 points with the boot.

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But it was not enough for the Welshmen as Munster overhauled them to remain as one of only two teams left in the league with a 100% record (Leinster being the other).

Both out-halves were off target with their first penalty kicks and the Dragons were dealt a blow in the sixth-minute when they lost starting scrum half Andrew Williams to a knee injury.

The hosts were also living dangerously in defence as both Holland and Niall Ronan, who was denied by the boot of the fast-covering Gareth Wyatt, were just kept out from registering tries for Munster.

Yet the Dragons hit the front when Evans sped through a gap for his try, after good ruck work from Dan Lydiate and Steve Jones. Thomas converted and banged over a three quick-fire penalties after 28, 32 and 36 minutes to stretch the home side’s lead to 16-0.

Crucially, Munster succeeded in getting off the mark just before the half-time whistle as centre Kieran Lewis put the supporting Dowling over for an unconverted try.

Willed on by man of the match Tomas O’Leary, the Munster pack gained some good ground on the restart and after a missed penalty from Thomas, Holland peeled off the side of a 49th-minute ruck to score an unconverted try.

Warwick, recovering from his earlier misses, flung a penalty through the posts, nine minutes later, and he repeated the trick after 67 and 73 minutes to nose Munster into a 19-16 lead.

The Dragons, who are in talks to sign veteran Australian out-half Stephen Larkham, kept in contention but their decision-making let them down and a missed Thomas drop goal attempt was their last shot at adding to their tally.

Munster kept the pressure on and just as the Dragons tried to launch an attack, Warwick intercepted a loose pass from Thomas to gallop 60 metres to the try line for the clinching score.