DEAN Ryan won't get to toast a shock victory with a glass of red before his Sunday roast after his Dragons side were beaten 28-16 by Munster in his absence.

The Irish province continued their winning start to the season with a fourth success despite a much-improved performance by the men from Rodney Parade.

It looked grim when Munster went 18-3 up in Newport but the hosts, after Sam Davies’ first try for the club, showed more fight than they had seven days earlier at Ulster.

With gnarly flankers Harri Keddie and Ben Fry leading the way along with the always excellent number eight Ollie Griffiths, the Dragons showed much more physicality in defence when pinned in their 22 and they were still just about in touch at 21-11 down entering the final quarter.

But the pressure of possession and territory eventually told and the visitors got their clinching third try in the 71st minute.

Yet the Dragons didn’t let their shoulder sag and had the final say when lock Matthew Screech – who worked tirelessly on his 150th appearance – crashed over.

South Wales Argus:

The Dragons have now faced a trio of Irish title contenders and after going closer against Munster than they did away to Leinster and Ulster, they will hope to change the record when they complete the provincial set against Connacht on Saturday.

Two years ago the Dragons edged out Edinburgh in the absence of Bernard Jackman, who was banned for criticism of referee Ian Davies, but they couldn’t repeat the trick without Ryan.

An unnamed member of the Dragons coaching team tested positive for coronavirus on Tuesday, meaning that the director of rugby had to self-isolate at his home in Cheltenham.

The region were also without forwards coaches Mefin Davies and Luke Narraway plus defence coach Simon Cross.

Backs coach Gordon Ross called the shots, assisted by Barry Maddocks, rugby general manager James Chapron and academy duo Sam Hibbs and Matt O’Brien, but Ryan said on Friday that he would be looking for his senior players to stand up in his absence.

They did that with former Wales and Lions centre Jamie Roberts making his voice heard in the behind closed doors fixture.

Yet it was once against Munster cheers on the final whistle, extending their winning streak in meetings between the sides.

Lyn Jones was boss and there were still rickety hospitality boxes at the southern end of the ground the last time that the Dragons had beaten Munster back in December, 2015.

South Wales Argus:

The Dragons started promisingly to go in front in the third minute through Sam Davies’ left boot, with a penalty won after Josh Lewis’ excellent kick into the 22, then fine work on the carry by Jamie Roberts and Owen Jenkins.

Munster levelled through fly-half JJ Hanrahan and then got their noses in front when his half-back partner Craig Casey exposed poor ruck defence with a snipe and then, playing with penalty advantage in the 22, flanker John Hodnett put full-back Matt Gallagher over down the right with a fine offload.

Ulster had hunted tries from the off in Belfast but their Irish rivals were more pragmatic on the road and Hanrahan added a second penalty to make it 11-3 after 22 minutes.

The second try soon came after Gallagher exposed a poor kick chase to counter before three of his fellow backs joined in, centre Rory Scannell finding Darren Sweetnam with a grubber to the left before he put other wing Calvin Nash over.

At 18-3 the Dragons needed a response and got one just past the half hour when a chip by Rhodri Williams with penalty advantage wasn’t gathered and Sam Davies dotted down the loose ball, although he failed to add the extras.

Munster ended the half putting the squeeze on in the 22 but the hosts escaped with ‘only’ a 10-point deficit.

They chipped away at that soon after the restart when Davies rewarded a spell of pressure from the tee and had a chance to push for a leveller from a five-metre lineout.

It was botched and Munster went straight down to the other 22 to earn a penalty for Hanrahan to make it 21-11.

Sweetnam thought that he had secured the spoils when he slid over after 54 minutes only to be denied by the TMO after being in front of the kicker.

Irish frustration grew when the winger had another effort chalked off after 61 minutes because of blocking.

But the winning try came on 71 minutes when a huge scrum earned a penalty that was kicked to the 22. Lineout ball was spun wide for South Africa World Cup winner Damian de Allende to put over Gallagher.

Back came the Dragons and Screech got the score that his toil deserved at the death after a tap penalty.

Dragons scorers: tries – S Davies, M Screech; penalties – S Davies (2)

Munster scorers: tries – M Gallagher (2), C Nash; conversions – JJ Hanrahan (2); penalties – JJ Hanrahan (3)