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Munster dominate at Thomond

05/03/2022

Dragons long wait for victory at Thomond Park continued as a Craig Casey inspired Munster secured a crushing 64-3 bonus point victory in the United Rugby Championship.

The Men of Gwent’s only previous win at the venue came on their very first visit back in March 2004 and it was another difficult evening in Limerick.

Scrum half Casey grabbed a first half brace as Munster ruthlessly wrapped up the bonus by the break.

Dragons showed determination in the face of a feisty and physical home display.

But the Munster machine showed no signs of letting up in the second half as the powered to another win to extend their proud unbeaten record at Thomond to nine games.

Munster’s only defeat in their last six was against Glasgow in February and they started the game at real pace as they looked wide at every opportunity.

In attack, Dragons looked to show invention as Sam Davies kicked into space for the returning Jack Dixon to collect.

After being frustrated early on, the host finally worked field position after ten minutes and, after a driving maul was halted, it was scrum half Casey who stepped and darted over.

Dragons were looking to add width to their game and when Keddie popped up out wide and drove over a tackle a penalty was forced.

Davies kicked to the corner and a second penalty seconds later, for not rolling away, allowed the fly half to open the visiting account.

Dragons were looking to match the home physical examination in the opening quarter but went further behind on 24 minutes as Casey again sniped over from close range.

Moments later a third home score arrived as Munster broke from deep and home skipper O’Donoghue exchanged passes before racing under the posts.

Only hard-working cover defence stopped Simon Zebo from breaking down the left before a retreating Aaron Wainwright and Rio Dyer mopped up more danger as Munster looked to keep the game alive.

The bonus point, though, arrived three minutes before the break as Munster went wide and exploited numbers for openside Chris Cloete.

A difficult first half was compounded in injury time as centre Aneurin Owen was forced off with an ankle injury, after falling awkwardly in a tackle.

Dragons made another change at the interval, the combative and fit-again Ben Fry replacing Wainwright, and the visitors enjoyed early territory to no avail.

A fifth home try came courtesy of Zebo, after quick thinking from Casey, before Farrell exploited a defensive lapse to power over less than 60 seconds later.

Munster were looking to offload at every opportunity and more outstanding handling fed Shane Daly to score just before the hour.

The hosts brought up the half century on 64 minutes when Cloete crashed over out wide following more sustained pressure.

Replacement John Hodnett and O’Donoghue added late gloss with tries in the final ten minutes.

Timeline:

10m Casey t Crowley c 7-0

18m Davies p 7-3

24m Casey t Crowley c 14-3

25m O’Donoghue t Crowley c 21-3

37m Cloete t Crowley c 28-3

53m Zebo t 33-3

54m Farrell t Crowley c 40-3

58m Daly t 45-3

64m Cloete t 50-3

74m Hodnett t Healy c 57-3

76m O’Donoghue t Healy 64-3

Munster: Mike Haley; Shane Daly, Chris Farrell, Dan Goggin, Simon Zebo; Jack Crowley, Craig Casey; Josh Wycherley, Diarmuid Barron, John Ryan; Jean Kleyn, Fineen Wycherley; Jack O’Donoghue, Chris Cloete, Gavin Coombes.

Replacements: Niall Scannell, Jeremy Loughman, Stephen Archer, Alex Kendellen, John Hodnett, Neil Cronin, Ben Healy, Rory Scannell.

Dragons: Jordan Williams, Will Talbot-Davies (Jones 54), Jack Dixon, Aneurin Owen (Lewis 40), Rio Dyer, Sam Davies, Rhodri Williams; Greg Bateman (Seiuli 46), Taylor Davies (Shipp 56), Chris Coleman (Doge 60), Joe Davies (Taylor 56), Joe Maksymiw, Harri Keddie (Baker 71), Ollie Griffiths, Aaron Wainwright (Fry 40)

Replacements: Ellis Shipp, Aki Seiuli, Mesake Doge, Huw Taylor, Ben Fry, Dan Baker, Lewis Jones, Josh Lewis

Referee: Sam Grove-White (SRU, 19th competition game)

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