Newport Gwent Dragons 31 Munster 22
Newport Gwent Dragons threw a spanner into Munster’s works in the Magners League with a thoroughly-deserved victory at Rodney Parade.
Munster took the match seriously enough to put out a back division that looked like they meant business.
It included Springbok star centre Jean de Villiers who is quitting the Irish province at the end of the season to return to South Africa.
And the reason they fielded such a strong line-up, which also included All Black Doug Howlett as well as Ireland stars Ronan O’Gara and Peter Stringer, was that the win would catapult them from fourth to above the Ospreys at the head of the league.
While a win would boost Munster’s title intentions, the Dragons needed the victory to keep their heads above the rival Blues and Scarlets for a Heineken Cup qualification spot.
And it was an eventful opening as Munster made a positive start. Howlett went over for a touchdown on the right only for it to be ruled out by the video ref for a knock-on.
Then O’Gara hit the post with a straightforward penalty.
The let-offs allowed the Dragons to ease the pressure and, after gaining some territorial advantage, wing Aled Brew scored a blistering try, racing 40 metres past two defenders before getting the better of full-back Paul Warwick to score.
Outside-half Jason Tovey converted but the lead did not last long as the home scrum, which had been under pressure, cracked on their line to concede a penalty try that gave O’Gara a simple conversion.
The tide turned, however, when the Welsh region gained significant territory.
The mistakes came from Munster towards half-time, allowing Tovey to boot two penalties and give his side a six-point advantage at the break.
To add further headaches to the province's troubles, centre Lifeimi Mafi was sin-binned for answering back referee Dudley Phillips.
And the Dragons took advantage for wing Will Harries who went over under the posts, only for that to be erased when flanker Tommy O’Donnell was on the end of a passing movement that included hooker Denis Fogarty, O’Gara and Warwick.
Munster’s chances of claiming that top spot took a turn for the worse a quick movement across midfield allowed full-back Martyn Thomas to get a third home touchdown.
They may have had the bonus point fourth try when Harries ran 70 metres from his own line but the resultant Tovey penalty in front of the posts sealed the result.
Prop Tony Buckley’s consolation converted try for Munster at the end was meaningless.