NEWPORT Gwent Dragons’ long drought over the Irish Sea continues after they were overpowered by Munster 33-13 in Limerick.
The Dragons have not won in Ireland since 2008 and, while they played with plenty of spirit and tenacity, never looked likely to secure a shock RaboDirect Pro12 success at Thomond Park.
They did, however, produce a performance that was an improvement on last weekend’s home loss to Cardiff Blues, even if the scoreline doesn’t suggest it.
The Dragons made the worse possible start when Munster wings Simon Zebo and Doug Howlett combined to put full-back Ian Keatley over after just 90 seconds.
Ireland and Lions fly-half Ronan O’Gara converted and added more extras when he improved flanker Niall Ronan’s score after 14 minutes, Zebo again the architect.
One feared a mauling at the hands of Munster but the Dragons dug deep and reduced the deficit to 14-6 at the break thanks to penalties by Tom Prydie and Lewis Robling, who took over the kicking duties after a pair of misses from the winger.
However, the hosts quickly stretched away after the break thanks to scores by Conor Murray and Simon Zebo while Dan Way was in the sin bin.
It was 26-6 with a quarter of the game remaining yet the Dragons showed spirit to come firing back and even threaten to earn an unlikely bonus point.
First full-back Dan Evans went over for his fourth try of the season and the visitors then nearly went over on a number of occasions after attacking with patience.
But hopes of a bonus point were extinguished when Tommy O’Donnell finished a flowing move to make it 33-13 with seven minutes left.