DRAGONS 16 MUNSTER 26
The Dragons found themselves leading 16-0 on the brink of half-time after shocking the visitors with the powerful running of the pack. But with a strong wind at their backs the former European champions edged their way back into the contest and stole the points.
And Paul Turner will be wondering this morning how the Dragons threw away such a commanding position. Replacement scrum-half Wayne Evans's try and 11 points from the boot of Aled Thomas had secured the hosts a 16-point margin and they were in complete control of the match on the half hour.
But Munster gave themselves a lifeline on the stroke of the interval when wing Ian Dowling scored in the right corner after taking Kieran Lewis's pass.
With the wind at Munster's backs in the second half, the visitors took control. Buoyed by their late score in the first period, flanker Billy Holland doubled Munster's try count after scrambling over in the 50th minute. Paul Warwick had endured a disappointing match with the boot but came to life in the final quarter.
The former Connacht man scored three long distance penalties to gave Munster the lead for the first time of the night before sealing the victory with an intercepted try from his own half in injury time.
The Dragons can't sign Aussie ace Stephen Larkham soon enough. This was their second home defeat of the season and unless Coach Paul Turner is given better quality assets to work with the £40m new home the Dragons are set to have by 2010 could host a second rate side.
The brightest point of an otherwise dismal night for the home fans was the announcement shortly before kick-off by Dragons president David Watkins that the region were deep in discussion with Rugby World Cup winner Larkham for his services.
Having been told Edinburgh couldn't afford him after all, the 102 times capped outside half's agent has been scouring Europe for a club rich enough to buy him.
"The board have made money available. We've asked about two people and Stephen Larkham's one of them,"said Watkins. "We've approached his agents to see how much money they want. We'll have to wait and see, but he has an injury at the moment and that has deflated things.
"Martyn Hazell has put a certain amount aside for Paul Turner to use. Tony Brown has also put some money up. It would be a big signing and we need one or two catalysts to make the club tick. We've had the news about the ground and that should be completed by 2010.
"What we want is a team to fit into the new ground. It isn't as easy as saying we want this player or that player because there is obviously competition from other clubs out there, but there is money that the Board has made money available for the coaches to work with."
Try: W Evans
Conversion: A Thomas
Penalties: A Thomas (3)
Tries: I Dowling, B Holland
Conversions: P Warwick
Penalties: P Warwick (3)
Dragons: M Thomas; G Wyatt, R Gomer-Davies, A Smith, R Mustoe; A Thomas, A Williams; H Gustafson, S Jones, R Thomas; L Charteris (Capt), A Hall; D Lydiate, J Bearman, R Parks
Replacements: B Daly (for S Jones 78), A Black (for H Gustafson 56), P Sidoli (for A Hall 60), N Fitisemanu (for J Bearman 65), J Ringer (for D Lydiate 55), G Maule (for A Smith 33), W Evans (for A Williams 7)
Munster: S Payne; I Dowling, K Lewis, L Mafi, A Horgan; P Warwick, T O'Leary; D Hurley, D Fogarty, F Pucciariello; M Melbourne, M O'Driscoll; B Holland, A Foley (Capt), N Ronan
Replacements: S Cronin, T Ryan, T O'Donnell, J Coughlan for B Holland 50, G Hurley, J Manning, R Tipoki for K Lewis 56
Referee: Neil Paterson (Scotland)