Home page | Official Irish Rugby

Provincial


Impressive debutant Chris Cloete, Alex Wootton and Chris Farrell made consistent yards as Munster led 14-3 at the interval, their tries coming from Rory Scannell (20 minutes) and Simon Zebo (28).

Angus O'Brien clipped over a penalty in each half for the Dragons, who have not won in Ireland in three years. The sell-out 8,008 Cork crowd celebrated the arrival of the bonus point in the 57th minute after well-taken scores from Jack O'Donoghue and Darren Sweetnam.

Three more tries followed in the final quarter, shared out by replacements Sam Arnold (2) and Kevin O'Byrne with man-of-the-match JJ Hanrahan, who revelled in the play-making role, taking his conversion tally to a perfect seven-from-seven.



It was a memorable send-off if, as anticipated, this is Rassie Erasmus' final game in charge before his South African compatriot Johann van Graan takes over as the province's head coach. His successor is due to receive his work permit later this month.

Speaking to reporters afterwards, Erasmus said: "I've definitely enjoyed my time here. his has been the best 18 months of my life, not just in rugby. I have learned so much from Irish people.

"I will treasure these days for the rest of my life. And the performance was wonderful to sign off with. It is going to be hard to leave Ireland because this country has been good to myself and (defence coach) Jacques Nienaber. He doesn't always get the chance to talk to the media but he feels that too.

"We have been on our own together this week and we have shared so many memories. I've learned so much here. The players have shown me what professionalism means, the Munster culture is amazing. It is a privilege for them and not just their jobs.

"Irish sides all have that, they may not have 400 players (in this country) but they have 160 top-class professionals and that is why they set the standard. The supporters here are passionate, always support you in a tough time and I would like to be a fan like that. I've learned a lot."



The 36-times capped former Springbok, who is moving home to take up a director of rugby role with the South African Rugby Union, added: "Munster have always been a great side, they just had a couple of shaky years. We've done lots of things to move into the future, changing to one training centre and it bodes well for the future.

"We are moving in the right direction and in good shape and the Leicester games (in the Champions Cup) will be important in December. I think we are sitting pretty."

Although the Dragons, who made seven enforced changes during to injuries and international call-ups, had an early maul opportunity, it was mostly Munster on the front foot as they looked to bounce back from derby defeats to Leinster and Connacht.



Errors from both sides made for a scrappy and scoreless opening quarter until Hanrahan, on his first start of the season at out-half, sent centre Scannell sliding over on the left for a try which the Kerryman converted from the touchline.

O'Brien clawed back three points with a well-struck penalty from inside the Munster 10-metre line, but with the hosts continuing to probe with the boot and bank on a solid maul set-up, bruising South Africa flanker Cloete paved the way for Zebo to strike in the same left corner.



Hanrahan expertly delivered the extras again from out wide to put 11 points between the sides, that gap staying in place until O'Brien split the posts early in the second half.

Munster conjured up a top-class response, Robin Copeland using turnover ball to break downfield and link with the supporting Sweetnam who brilliantly fed O'Donoghue outside him for the try of the night.



Hanrahan swept over his third conversion and then lofted over a pass for Sweetnam to seal the bonus point by the hour mark, the initial pressure coming from another storming run by Copeland. Hanrahan kept up his 100% form off the tee to make it 28-6.

Hanrahan turned provider for the next try, spotting a gap and feeding centre Arnold who notched his first Munster score on his return from injury. O'Byrne also opened his PRO14 try account from a powerful 69th-minute maul, and Arnold completed his brace with five minutes left, crossing in the right corner after the fast-breaking Ian Keatley had set the wheels in motion and Zebo and Sweetnam had supplied the final passes.
No ALT tag specified