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Preview: Newport Gwent Dragons v Munster

client 13 Sep 2016
Ian Keatley

 

Newport Gwent Dragons are expecting a Munster backlash at Rodney Parade on Saturday but backs coach Shaun Connor insists his charges will be ready.

The Dragons secured their first win of the Guinness PRO12 season with a hard-fought 11-6 victory over Zebre last time out.

Munster meanwhile backed up an away win at the Scarlets in round one with a shock home defeat to Cardiff Blues and will be itching to set the record straight.

The Dragons have not beaten an Irish province since January but did win this equivalent fixture against Munster last season.

“Munster have changed the way they defend and you can see that they have a South African in charge because they are very well structured and organised,” said backs coach Connor.

“They are the lowest passing team in the league in the first two games and probably the highest for kicks; their game is about putting pressure on and playing in the right areas.

“It’s effective for them and they try to get you in your half and squeeze you. We saw from the Scarlets game that when they get into your 22 they are very powerful and effective.”

Head coach Kingsley Jones has made five personnel changes and one positional change to the team that beat Zebre last weekend.

Full-back Carl Meyer returns to play, after recovering from concussion against Ulster, he joins the back three alongside wings Hallam Amos and Pat Howard.

The centre partnership sees Tyler Morgan retain his position with Jack Dixon getting the nod from Jones. The half-backs remain unchanged for the third week as fly-half Nick Macleod and scrum-half Sarel Pretorius are named.

The front row sees two changes made as prop Sam Hobbs is named alongside Brok Harris. Hooker Rhys Buckley joins them in the starting XV as Thomas Rhys Thomas continues with his recovery after suffering a sore neck during the Zebre match. The second row remains unchanged as Nick Crosswell and Rynard Landman are given the nod. The back row includes flanker Ollie Griffiths who joins Lewis Evans and Ed Jackson.

The Munstermen were victorious at Scarlets in round 1 but have not won successive matches in Wales since November 2014.

And Rassie Erasmus has made six personnel changes to the side that were beaten by Cardiff Blues last week, named in the starting XV are returning internationals Conor Murray and Keith Earls, while Ireland colleagues Donnacha Ryan and CJ Stander also make their first starts of the season.

The side includes a number of new combinations with Jean Kleyn and Ryan packing down in the second row, Conor Murray and Tyler Bleyendaal in the half-backs, and Dan Goggin and Keith Earls in the midfield partnership, all starting alongside each other for the first time.

It’s a case of as you were in the front row with James Cronin, Niall Scannell and John Ryan starting together for the third successive round. Last week’s back three of Ronan O’Mahony, Darren Sweetnam and Andrew Conway also remain in situ.

Captain Billy Holland makes the positional switch to blindside flanker this week, with Jack O’Donoghue moving to openside flanker as Stander completes the starting pack at 8.

Colm O’Shea has been named among the replacements and is in line to make his first appearance for the province if sprung from the bench.

“We all know that was a really disappointing performance last time,” he added.

“Myself and the coaches, we did a few things not right during the game and leading up to the game maybe. That always makes a big contribution to the game.

“We were all frustrated after an away win (at Scarlets) and then adding a home loss. If we play that bad it’s frustrating and you lose by one point and you are still in the games, it’s frustrating. I think that’s what showed a little bit, but it was nothing too serious. I think that’s competitiveness, but it’s frustration too.”

 

Dragons: Meyer, Howard, Morgan, Dixon, Amos, Macleod, Pretorius; Hobbs, Buckley, Harris, Crosswell, Landman, Evans, Griffiths, Jackson
Replacements: Harris, T Davies, Mitchell, Hill, Thomas, C Davies, O’Brien, Warren
Munster: Conway, Sweetnam, Earls, Goggin, O’Mahony; Bleyendaal, Murray; Cronin, Scannell, J Ryan; Kleyn, D Ryan; Holland, O’Donoghue, Stander.
Replacements: Casey, Kilcoyne, Scott, O’Callaghan, Oliver, Williams, Keatley, O’Shea

 

Overall Guinness PRO12 head to head record:
Played 26, Newport Gwent Dragons won 8, Munster won 18.

At Rodney Parade, 5.15pm. Live on Sky Sports
Referee: Dudley Phillips (IRFU, 63rd competition game)
Assistant Referees: Claudio Blessano (FIR), Rob Price (WRU)
Citing Commissioner: John Charles (WRU)
TMO: Stefano Penne (FIR)

Historical Lineup Pre Opta (sfms data) - Preview - v2

Match Page 2017-18 - Lineups WP: 135

Match Page 2017-18 - Match Data WP: 140

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Munster fight back to down valiant Dragons

Guinness PRO12 Rugby Editor 17 Sep 2016

Cian Bohane’s second-half try was enough to ensure Munster scraped past a battling Newport Gwent Dragons 20-16 at Rodney Parade.

A Tyler Bleyendaal penalty and Jean Kleyn’s first try for the Men in Red ensured they stretched out to an early lead, but Welsh international winger Hallam Amos replied with a well-judged interception and Angus O’Brien kicked well to leave the sides inseparable at the break.

Kingsley Jones’ side took the lead immediately after the break, O’Brien and Bleyendaal trading penalties before the young Welsh pivot put the hosts ahead.

Bohane was on hand to finish with just over 20 minutes remaining, earning Rassie Erasmus’ outfit a second win of the Guinness PRO12 campaign as they rebounded from last weekend’s loss to the still unbeaten Cardiff Blues.

Munster struck first, Bleyendaal knocking over a penalty after ten minutes, but O’Brien pulled the hosts level three minutes later.

Kleyn, on his first start for Munster, powered over from close-range and Bleyendaal kicked the conversion, to put the Irishmen 10-3 ahead after 20 minutes.

Welsh winger Amos had been a standout performer for Jones’ men last week as they struggled to victory over Zebre and he was again their go-to man, plucking a fine interception and racing 50 metres to score his first try of the season, which O’Brien converted.

Erasmus’ side looked to have restored their lead, but they were pulled back for an O’Mahony knock on and the two sides went in level at 10-10.

Munster had struggled with handling throughout the first period and it again blighted their play after the break, a knock on handing Dragons a scrum inside the 22 that instigated a period of pressure from the hosts.

O’Brien made that pay on 40 minutes, kicking his second penalty of the evening to move Dragons 13-10 ahead.

It was to be short-lived, Bleyendaal on target from the tee to punish Dragons’ indiscretion at ruck-time.

O’Brien continued to edge Dragons ahead, the 22-year-old firing over a third penalty as the visitors continued to shoot themselves in the foot.

Bohane’s score was the turning point, but the man himself got lucky. Darren Sweetnam looked to have finished well for Erasmus’ side, but he spilled the ball backwards in going over the line, leaving 25-year-old centre the easiest try he is likely to score, Bleyendaal adding the extras for a 20-16 lead.

Newport had time for one final foray, kicking a penalty deep into the Munster 22 and driving for the line, but it was not to be for Jones’s side – though they did claim a losing bonus point.

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