The Dragons secured a surprise but much-needed 20-6 Magners League victory against Munster at a snowy Rodney Parade.
The Dragons secured a surprise but much-needed 20-6 Magners League victory against Munster at a snowy Rodney Parade on Friday.
A first half stranglehold took the Welshmen, who were just above basement side Aironi Rugby, into a lead that they never gave up as Munster failed to impose themselves on the match.
It took the Dragons up to eighth in the table, leapfrogging Connacht, Glasgow Warriors and Benetton Treviso, while Munster's lead at the top was cut to four points after Ulster won in Italy.
The home side were in control by half-time and could easily have been much further ahead than their 17-3 lead.
Munster hardly threatened during the period and shot themselves in the foot by having two players yellow-carded as well.
Home outside-half Jason Tovey missed a couple of long penalties early on and decided to play the territorial game on the slippery surface.
Those missed kicks saw Dragons unrewarded for their efforts in the first 20 minutes but that soon changed when number eight Toby Faletau drove his way upfield and presented the ball at a ruck.
The ball went across the backs for Tovey to give centre Tom Riley a lovely pass on a direct run through the Munster midfield for a neat try.
Munster hardly got out of their own half, and soon lost centre Sam Tuitupou for a high tackle on the home stand-off.
The Dragons took advantage as former Wales flanker Gavin Thomas was just held up by a brilliant last-gasp tackle from scrum-half Tomas O'Leary as he turned to touch down.
But the lively back-row man would not be denied and, after Faletau drove from a maul close to the Munster line, Thomas got the ball and drove over under a pile of bodies from two metres.
Worse was to come for Munster as they went down to 13 men when number eight James Coughlan was binned for being off.
And, with the home pack performing well while Tovey regained the 14-point advantage with a penalty near half-time after opposite number Paul Warwick booted a 20-metre shot for Munster's first points of the game, all was well for the Welsh on a bitterly cold night in Newport.
But Munster are not a major Irish region for nothing and they came out firing for the second half.
They had the home team on the back foot for the third quarter but only added a Warwick penalty to their total, although they were helped when home skipper Tom Willis was yellow-carded – also for being off his feet at a ruck.
But Munster could not take advantage of the extra man and restored their 14-point advantage when Tovey booted a 30-metre drop-goal on 68 minutes which meant Munster would need two converted tries to draw.
The visitors had one or two chances, the best being when full-back Scott Deasy kicked over the home defence – but a superb cover tackle from opposite number Pat Leach denied the try.
And, while the Irishmen laid siege to the Dragons' line in the final moments, the Welshmen held firm and denied their opponents any chance of a losing bonus point.
Dragons: 15 Pat Leach, 14 Adam Hughes, 13 Tom Riley, 12 Ashley Smith, 11 Aled Brew, 10 Jason Tovey, 9 Wayne Evans, 8 Toby Faletau, 7 Gavin Thomas, 6 Lewis Evans, 5 Rob Sidoli, 4 Luke Charteris, 3 Nigel Hall, 2 Tom Willis, 1 Phil Price.
Replacements: 16 Lloyd Burns, 17 Ben Castle, 18 Hugh Gustafson, 19 Adam Jones, 20 Hugo Ellis, 21 Tom Cheeseman, 22 Jonathan Evans, 23 Matthew Jones.
Munster: 15 Johne Murphy, 14 Doug Howlett (c), 13 Barry Murphy, 12 Sam Tuitupou, 11 Denis Hurley, 10 Paul Warwick, 9 Tomas O'Leary, 8 James Coughlan, 7 Niall Ronan, 6 Tommy O'Donnell, 5 Ian Nagle, 4 Billy Holland, 3 John Hayes, 2 Mike Sherry, 1 Dave Ryan.
Replacements: 16 S Henry, 17 Wian du Preez, 18 Peter Borlase, 19 B Hayes, 20 P O'Mahony, 21 C Murray, 22 Scott Deasy, 23 Lifeimi Mafi.
Referee: Alan Falzone (Italy)