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Munster climb to top of URC table after victory over Dragons

04 Nov 2023 3 minute read
Rodney Parade picture by COYB01 (CC BY-SA 4.0).

Ireland Under-20 star Brian Gleeson scored his first senior try during Munster’s 45-14 BKT United Rugby Championship win over Dragons at Musgrave Park that sent them top of the table.

The Tipperary teenager came off the bench to cross with Rory Scannell, Gavin Coombes, player-of-the-match Calvin Nash (2), Tom Ahern and Craig Casey also going over.

Graham Rowntree’s side had three tries on the board to lead 17-7 at half-time, with Academy fly-half Tony Butler converting the first of them from Scannell.

Teenage flanker Ryan Woodman scored on his first start for Dragons who also saw Aki Seiuli cross from a maul, but once Ahern took care of the bonus point, Munster eased their way to a seven-try triumph.

The 21-year-old Butler also made his first competitive start for Munster, spearheading an early break which ended with Dragons unfortunately losing Angus O’Brien to injury.

Dane Blacker was introduced at scrum-half with Rhodri Williams, on his 100th club appearance, moving to full-back. The visitors held out until Scannell struck in the 14th minute.

Having been released through a gap by Kiwi Alex Nankivell, winger Nash had Scannell on his inside to finish off from 15 metres out. Butler quickly converted.

Number eight Coombes took two defenders with him over the line in the 17th minute, and Nash then showed his pace and evasion skills to run in a superb solo effort from halfway.

Roared back

Although a knock-on spoiled a promising maul, Dragons quickly roared back through the fast-breaking Williams. Blacker deftly dangled a kick out to left for Wales Under-20 captain Woodman to collect and claim his first URC try, converted by Will Reed.

Jack Dixon’s turnover penalty gave the Welsh outfit a timely lift early on the restart, yet Ahern made it over in the 47th minute following powerful carries by John Ryan and Edwin Edogbo.

Nice hands from Ahern, Edogbo and Shane Daly allowed Casey to make it 31-7 in his first appearance since the Rugby World Cup.

Bradley Davies was held up short from a lineout drive, before Williams’ textbook tackle prevented Munster newcomer Sean O’Brien from scoring.

Gleeson crashed over in the 64th minute and replacement Jack Crowley’s inviting grubber kick saw Nash double his tally, albeit that he injured himself in the process.

Aggrieved that Nankivell avoided a card for catching Ashton Hewitt high in a tackle, Dragons at least had the final say through replacement Seiuli, with Reed converting off the post.

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