THE Dragons were edged out 8-7 by Guinness PRO14 title hopefuls Munster at Rodney Parade. Here are the talking points from the clash in Newport…


Caretaker boss Ceri Jones chose not to go down the same route as his predecessor Bernard Jackman, whose slamming of ref Ian Davies earned a two-match ban, after the game.

READ MORE: Post-match reaction

The key spell came in the third quarter when the Dragons got on the wrong side of referee Ben Blain, who was making his PRO14 debut.

The home supporters certainly felt that the Scottish official was favouring the Irish province – and at times the Dragons do suffer from preconceptions – but, with the benefit of Premier Sports, it wasn’t the man with the whistle’s fault.

The home side conceded three penalties in the first half but between 49 minutes and Jean Kleyn’s score on 62 they were pinged seven times.

All seemed fair on television viewing.

49: Harris scrum offence.

50: Screech makes contact in the air at a lineout.

52: No-arms tackle by Fairbrother.

53: Screech into the maul from the side.

55: Screech dragging down a maul (yellow).

57: Cudd no clear release.

61: Cudd not rolling away.

In rugby it’s sometimes a case of a ref choosing which one of many offences he deems to be worthy of a penalty but Mr Blain seemed to have a pretty solid PRO14 debut.


The Dragons coaches made just one change – stalwart Lewis Evans for lock Joe Davies in the final quarter – and that indicates the strong performances of those that were out there and a lack of depth.

At the start of the season the management were making front row changes on 50 minutes because they were able to field Brok Harris/Ryan Bevington, Elliot Dee/Richard Hibbard, Leon Brown/Lloyd Fairbrother/Aaron Jarvis. At lock they were rotating Matthew Screech and Brandon Nansen.

The options weren’t as strong this time with on-loan Scarlets prospect Rhys Fawcett, Rhys Lawrence and Dan Suter backing up Harris, Hibbard and Fairbrother.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it and the Dragons reaped the rewards of sticking with those that were doing well in tricky conditions.


It wasn’t an afternoon for taking risks and it was no surprise that there was plenty of kicking in the monsoon.

South Wales Argus:

That occasionally frustrated the home faithful but the Dragons had to stick to the plan rather than being too ambitious (which nearly cost them at the end of the first half when Jared Rosser’s pass put them under the pump).

“Munster tend to kick the ball a lot and you can get lulled into a playing back into it,” said Jones after the game.

“If they kick it to you all the time and you play just outside your 22 and then get caught, that’s when they put the pressure on and try and trap you, turn you over, win a penalty to the corner and get their driving game going.

“It was more a tactical game from us to put it back on them and really stay in the fight. I was really pleased because we stuck at it and got results from it with some really good kicks.”


The former Wales and Lions hooker has turned out to be one of the better signings made by Jackman. In fact, there is an argument for him being the best of last summer’s recruits.

The 35-year-old has already played 18 fixtures and the Munster game showed just why he has been brought in.

Hibbard led by example in the absence of Wales hooker Elliot Dee and captain Cory Hill, putting in some telling blows that lifted his teammates.

He probably wasn’t expecting too many 80-minute games when he penned a contract but the veteran seems to be loving his rugby as much as ever.


The Dragons have made strides under Jones with strong performances in all three festive derbies and another versus title-chasing Munster.

However, they are just two points ahead of the Southern Kings in Conference B and the same tally ahead of Zebre in Conference A.

The Dragons need a strong end to the campaign if they are to avoid propping up the pile.

They have been plucky losers in recent weeks and now need to grind out some wins.