CERI Jones hailed the battling effort of his Dragons players in their 8-7 loss to PRO14 title hopefuls Munster – but lamented their second-half indiscipline.

The Rodney Parade region were edged out by the Irish province, who return to the top of Conference A, in horrendous conditions in Newport.

MATCH REPORT: Dragons 7 Munster 8

Tighthead Lloyd Fairbrother crossed for a first-half try for the Dragons but a close-range score by South African lock Jean Kleyn, while opposite number Matthew Screech was in the sin bin, proved to be key.

The hosts got on the wrong side of Ben Blain on the Scottish official’s PRO14 debut but caretaker boss Jones didn’t point the finger at the novice official despite a penalty count of 14 to 7.

“Tactically we were really good and our work rate was excellent to put ourselves in a position to win the game, unfortunately we just didn’t take that opportunity,” said Jones.

“Our penalty count in the second half just wasn’t good enough. We will have to look at a few of the decisions and see where we are at with those.

“It was disappointing from our point of view. The penalty count in the second half was clear for everyone to see.

“I need to go and look closer but they appeared to be for multiple things. I was disappointed by one against Josh Lewis for playing the man in the air when I felt we had the same situation on Will Talbot-Davies in the first half, it looked like-for-like to me.

“I am not here to shoot down a referee – it’s his first game in the PRO14. There are going to be errors, we made errors in our game and I am sure everyone else does.

“I am just disappointed with ourselves really. If the penalty count was down to us then we need to be better.”

South Wales Argus: CARRYING HARD: Harrison Keddie on the chargeCARRYING HARD: Harrison Keddie on the charge

Jones opted to make just one replacement – stalwart forward Lewis Evans coming off the bench in the final quarter – and praised the toil of his team, which was led superbly by former Wales and Lions hooker Richard Hibbard.

“You saw Hibbs’ blond hair flying around the place and he was throwing himself into just about everything. That can be said for Brok Harris and Lloyd Fairbrother, who both played 80 minutes as well,” said the head coach.

“The back row worked incredibly hard and it was a typical Nic Cudd performance, coming off the field covered in blood after putting his body on the line for the team.

“There was no lack of effort from the players and the crowd were pleased with that, we are just disappointed that we didn’t get the elusive win.”

“The work rate and our tactical kicking game was excellent,” he continued. “We dealt with Munster’s threat around the defensive lineout particularly well, mixing it up by hitting some and standing off others.

“They have a very strong driving game and we did well to negate that, while the scrum was decent as well.

“There were lots of pleasing aspects with the work rate of the boys and tactical nous to stay in the game for so long and put ourselves in a position to win.

“We had some really good performances over the Christmas period and we will just keep building on the back of that. If we do that then I am sure the wins will come.”

The Dragons now have a two-week break before heading to Edinburgh.