RaboDirect Pro12: Ian Keatley kicks Munster past Dragons
Last Updated: 29/11/13 10:14pm
Ian Keatley: Six penalties for the visitors
Munster claimed their eighth RaboDirect Pro12 win out of nine this season with a battling 18-14 victory over Newport Gwent Dragons at Rodney Parade.
Stand-off Ian Keatley booted all of his side's points with six penalties, while the Dragons managed the only try of an absorbing contest when wing Matthew Pewtner stole in at the corner just after the break.
Dragons outside-half Jason Tovey kicked two penalties and a drop goal as the home side fought until the last few minutes, but they were left to rue a number of costly mistakes when the final whistle blew.
Munster's British and Irish Lions lock Paul O'Connell, partnering Donnacha O'Callaghan in a powerful second row, will take the ugly win that keeps them firmly in the league driving seat at the top of the table.
And it ruined a possible second league victory in consecutive weeks for the seventh-placed Dragons, who took the notable scalp of Glasgow Warriors last weekend.
It was tight from the beginning, signalling the defensive stalemate which the first 40 minutes brought.
Tovey got the first points on the board with a penalty after 11 minutes but missed another from the right touchline soon after.
O'Connell was a tower in the Munster thrusts into the home 22 and, from one of those attacks, the Irishmen were awarded a penalty directly in front of the posts which Keatley slotted easily.
But the highlights of the drab opening period were few and far between with the home side their own worst enemies, knocking the ball on all too easily and frequently.
When Munster infringed just inside their own half on 40 minutes, Tovey stepped up to hoist the ball straight through the uprights and send his side into the break 6-3 ahead.
The Welshmen came out firing after the interval and stormed further in front with a nicely worked move involving scrum-half Richie Rees that sent Pewtner over for an unconverted touchdown.
Tovey had another long-range penalty attempt that missed and that could have made some difference in the final outcome as Keatley began to lead the fightback, despite Munster having Irish international ace Keith Earls sent to the sin-bin for a high tackle on home centre Pat Leach midway through the half.
Another error near their posts saw Keatley pop over his third penalty and he put Munster into a one-point lead on 67 minutes to the joy of a noisy visiting contingent from the Emerald Isle.
A Tovey drop-goal restored the home lead but two more Keatley penalties towards the end and the sin-binning of home lock Cory Hill finished the Dragons off for the night.
Fri 24th Apr
Edinburgh37 - 0Zebre
Ulster26 - 10Leinster
Sat 25th Apr
Connacht0 - 0Glasgow Warriors
Cardiff Blues0 - 0Ospreys
Munster0 - 0Treviso
Dragons0 - 0Scarlets
Fri 8th May
Dragons0 - 0Edinburgh
Leinster0 - 0Treviso
Ospreys0 - 0Glasgow Warriors
Sat 9th May
Ulster0 - 0Munster
Zebre0 - 0Connacht
Sun 10th May
Scarlets0 - 0Cardiff Blues
Sat 16th May
Cardiff Blues0 - 0Zebre
Connacht0 - 0Ospreys
Edinburgh0 - 0Leinster
Glasgow Warriors0 - 0Ulster
Munster0 - 0Dragons
Treviso0 - 0Scarlets
RaboDirect PRO12 2013/14 R9
Leinster ran out 36-19 winners over the Scarlets as they moved into second spot in the RaboDirect PRO12.
A late penalty from Gareth Davies earned Cardiff Blues a hard-fought 26-26 Pro12 draw with Treviso at Stadio Monigo.
Edinburgh moved up one spot to eighth place in the RaboDirect PRO12 table after beating lowly Connacht on Friday.