'We can't afford another performance like this,' fumes Munster boss Rowntree

Munster were uncharacteristically inaccurate and ill-disciplined as they were knocked from pillar to post by a Dragons side who looked like they wanted it more. 
'We can't afford another performance like this,' fumes Munster boss Rowntree

Munster's Joey Carbery dejected after the game

URC: Dragons 23 Munster 17

GRAHAM ROWNTREE was furious with the performance of his Munster side after they got outmuscled by the Dragons in Newport.

This was the first time Munster had lost to the lowly Welsh club in seven years, and what makes this defeat more difficult to take is that the Dragons hadn’t won a home game since April 2021 before Sunday afternoon.

This may be nothing more than teething problems, but Munster were uncharacteristically inaccurate and ill-disciplined as they were knocked from pillar to post by a Dragons side who looked like they wanted it more. 

Munster are winless in the United Rugby Championship this season following their opening round defeat at Cardiff, and even though they will almost certainly beat Zebre next weekend, they are currently miles behind the leading sides in this competition.

And Rowntree, who took over from Johann van Graan in the summer, was quick to point out how far off the pace his side were.

“I told the lads I’m not happy with our discipline, inaccuracy, the way we were forcing things and our error count,” said the Munster head coach. “I can’t have this.

“I was surprised about our inaccuracy particularly going into their 22, and our inability to keep the ball in that key area.

“That really shocked me I’ll be honest with you. Whoever you play you are going to have a challenge particularly when you play away from home regardless of what’s happened in the Dragons camp this week.

“I expected better in terms of the stuff we can do better. It was just so poor.

“We had eight turnovers in the first half and were ill-disciplined. We lost lineouts, knocked on and we never got a foothold in the game.” 

Munster lost the collisions during the first half an hour of this contest while they were also blown away at the breakdown. Ben Healy opened the scoring from the kicking tee but their lack of discipline allowed former Munster out-half JJ Hanrahan to kick his side into a 15-3 lead.

They weren’t in the game up to this point, but they finally came to life when Healy ghosted through the Dragons defence and released Simon Zebo who raced clear. Zebo was tackled high by Rio Dyer, who was sent to the sin bin, and eventually scored when Stephen Archer powered over.

A well-timed pop pass from Craig Casey put Healy over for their second try and they held a 17-15 lead at the interval. But they didn’t make the most of their second chance as the Dragons harassed them into errors throughout the second half.

Rio Dyer’s sensational individual try, which saw him beat four defenders on the outside to score, was a worthy way to win this game for the Dragons. Jack O’Donoghue saw yellow late on as Hanrahan sealed the win.

Rowntree was at a loss to explain Munster’s lack of energy and inability to do the basics right, but he made it very clear they must bounce back against Zebre in Cork next week.

“The next game is always must win and we have to be better against Zebre,” said Rowntree.

“We have a very large and competitive squad. We had British Lions on the field but whoever has got the shirt we just expected more accuracy.

“We can’t afford another performance like this.” 

Scorers for Dragons 

Tries – R Dyer 72 Pens JJ Hanrahan 9, 15, 22, 26, 34, 80 

Munster 

Tries – S Archer 36, B Healy 39 Cons – B Healy 37, 40, Pens – B Healy 2  

DRAGONS: A O’Brien; R Dyer, S Tomkinson (M Clarke 69), J Dixon, A Hewitt; JJ Hanrahan, R Williams; A Seiuli (R Evans 58), B Roberts (E Dee 58), L Fairbrother (C Coleman 53), G Nott (B Carter 53), W Rowlands, S Lonsdale (A Wainwright 62), T Basham, R Moriarty.

Replacements not used: L Jones, J Williams.

MUNSTER: M Haley; K Earls (L Coombes 13), D Goggin, M Fekitoa, S Zebo; B Healy (J Carbery 58), C Casey (P Patterson 60); D Kilcoyne (L O’Connor 58), N Scannell, S Archer (K Knox 58), J Kleyn (T Beirne 13), F Wycherley (E Edogbo 58), J O’Donoghue, P O’Mahony, J O’Sullivan.

Replacements: S Buckley, Attendance: 4,269 Referee: Sam Grove-White (Scotland) Star man: JJ Hanrahan (Dragons) S

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