Dyer stunner secures famous victory
A superb second half try from Rio Dyer capped a brilliant home performance as Dragons stunned Munster 23-17 in the BKT United Rugby Championship.
Dyer blasted past three men to a huge Rodney Parade roar eight minutes time to secure a breath-taking victory.
Fly half JJ Hanrahan slotted five first half penalties as Dragons controlled the opening half only for late scores from Stephen Archer and Ben Healy to snatch the lead.
But a display full of passion and desire in the second half saw Dragons control proceedings before Dyer’s stunning solo effort and Hanrahan’s late kick sealed it.
Dragons made three changes to the starting line-up as George Nott was handed a debut in the second row while Ashton Hewitt and Taine Basham were recalled Max Clark and Rob Evans were also set for debuts after being named among the replacements.
Visiting fly half Ben Healy gave Munster the perfect start with a penalty, after not releasing, after less than two minutes.
Dragons, though, were playing with plenty on intent in the opening exchanges and fronting up in some huge collisions.
Munster strayed offside as they looked to push up and Hanrahan slotted a long-range kick to draw the sides level.
Dixon, Tomkinson and Roberts all unloaded big hits to push Munster back before Angus O’Brien hit a booming clearing kick to deafening roars of approval from the terraces.
Ireland wing Keith Earls was an early casualty of a punishing period while Jean Kleyn was also taken off for an HIA.
More powerful home running, with Dixon forcing his way past Malakai Fekitoa, forced another penalty and again Hanrahan split the sticks for a 6-3 lead.
The home crowd was rising to the effort on the field and a big driving mail followed by two quick-fire penalties, the second for a high tackle on Seiuli, saw Hanrahan nudge through three more points.
Basham threatened a break after Munster coughed up ball in contact, but his pass just failed to find the hands of Rhodri Williams in support.
Hanrahan slotted his fourth penalty of the afternoon, after Stephen Archer was penalised at the breakdown.
O’Brien was hailed on the Compeed terrace after a brilliant take from Simon Zebo’s chip and then touch finder as Dragons continued to battle for every inch.
Roberts had Rodney Parade on its feet with a barnstorming run down the middle before Ross Moriarty took ball on and won then penalty. Hanrahan, again, made no mistake.
Munster hit back immediately with Mike Haley making the initial break after a quick tap penalty before Archer burrowed over. Dyer was yellow carded for his high tackle on Zebo in the build-up.
And with the man advantage, Healy went over for a second try and converted his own score for a 17-15 lead at the break.
Hanrahan nudged an early penalty into the home 22 as Dragons looked to shunt momentum back their way.
Patient build-up saw the clock on the sin bin run down, with the home side bravely opting for a scrum instead of three points.
But fine work from Munster forced a penalty as they cleared their lines. Coleman, Carter, Dee and Evans – for his debut – were all introduced as Dragons looked to add yet more grunt up front as the game entered the final hour.
Evans was quickly into his work as he joined forces with Dyer to win a penalty that Hanrahan kicked deep into Munster’s 22.
But a stray lineout saw the chance lost. Wainwright – on his birthday – came on a won a crucial penalty as the visitors looked to strike a decisive blow as the game entered the final quarter.
Hanrahan had another shot at goal ten minutes from time but this time the kick drifted agonisingly wide right.
A moment of sublime brilliance from Dyer then saw the roof come off the stadium as he burst past tacklers and roared past the exposed full back for a quite stunning individual score.
A frantic finale saw Dragons hold firm before the final act saw Hanrahan slot a late kick to ensure the win.
02m Healy p 0-3
10m Hanrahan p 3-3
16m Hanrahan p 6-3
23m Hanrahan p 9-3
28m Hanrahan p 12-3
35m Hanrahan p 15-3
37m Archer t Healy c 15-10
39m Healy t Healy c 15-17
72m Dyer 20-17
80m Hanrahan t 23-17
Dragons RFC: Angus O’Brien, Rio Dyer, Sio Tomkinson (Clark 69), Jack Dixon, Ashton Hewitt, JJ Hanrahan, Rhodri Williams; Aki Seiuli (Evans 58), Bradley Roberts (Dee 58), Lloyd Fairbrother (Coleman 53), George Nott (Carter 53), Will Rowlands, Sean Lonsdale (Wainwright 62), Taine Basham, Ross Moriarty
Replacements: Elliot Dee, Rob Evans, Chris Coleman, Ben Carter, Aaron Wainwright, Lewis Jones, Max Clark, Jordan Williams
Munster: Mike Haley, Keith Earls, Malakai Fekitoa, Dan Goggin, Simon Zebo, Ben Healy, Craig Casey, Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell, Stephen Archer; Jean Kleyn, Fineen Wycherley; Jack O'Donoghue, Peter O’Mahony, Jack O'Sullivan.
Replacements: Scott Buckley, Liam O’Connor, Keynan Knox, Edwin Edogbo, Tadhg Beirne, Paddy Patterson, Joey Carbery, Liam Coombes Referee: Sam Grove-White (SRU, 25th league game)