Munster Let Rugby Do The Talking.
11th December 2005 By Munster Rugby
If the Dragons players used rhetoric to try to destabilise their illustrious visitors, comparing Anthony Foley’s side to ‘Dads Army’, Munster rolled up their sleeves and let their rugby do the talking
Thre is no team more prickly or proud in the Heineken Cup than Munster.
So when you are going to start slinging mud at them you had better hope you’ve got the ability to defend yourself from the return onslaught.
While the Dragons’ players used rhetoric to try to destabilise their illustrious visitors, comparing Anthony Foley’s side to ‘Dads Army’, Munster simply rolled up their sleeves and let their rugby do the talking.
What they delivered in return may not have been pretty, or expansive, but it dumped the Dragons on the bones of their backsides and condemned them to a third successive Heineken Cup defeat. Their European campaign is now over, although they had better keep their wits about them in the final three games in Pool 1 or they could end up a bit of a laughing stock.
Next weekend’s trip to the cauldron of Thomond Park will be instructive. No team has won a European there in 10 years, so it could be a long afternoon.
A New Year trip to the home of Pool leaders Sale Sharks, now firmly installed among the favourites to take the title this season, will be another days of reckoning before Castres Olympique round off the campaign at Rodney Parade. No wonder, then, that acting skipper Michael Owen was talking about guts and determination, never giving up and building for a brighter future, and Dragons coach Paul Turner was calling for his region to be as inclusive as Munster.
You have to learn from hard knocks and the Dragons’ entity as a whole, not merely their small playing squad, is being buffeted at almost every turn. The time has come for everyone in the region to rally together, rather than stand apart, if they want a professional rugby team to continue to be a viable prospect in Gwent.
“We just weren’t quite up to the quality of Munster, although I couldn’t fault the effort put in by the Dragons’ players,” said Owen. “I am convinced we can go on to compete with teams like Munster. We just have to keep on working and learning.
“The young back three did brilliantly well for us and showed a lot of character. That’s what we need at this stage of our development.”
Aled Thomas, Gareth Chapman and Richard Fussell found themselves thrown into the deep end and kept their heads well above water. When you’ve got the likes of Kevin Morgan, Hal Luscombe, Nathan Brew and Gareth Wyatt sitting on the touchline injured it is enough to trouble any team.
“We are still in our infancy as a team and as a region – and we will remain so for the next few years,” admitted Turner.
“Munster have been together a long time and there are plenty of things we can learn from them and put into practice here.”
If the Dragons aren’t to be humiliated in Limerick on Saturday they must remedy their line-out difficulties – they lost six of their own throws – and learn how to cut out the silly errors that ruined much of their good work at the scrum.
Mossie Lawlor opened the scoring with a 10th minute drop goal before Ronan O’Gara hit the mark with two penalties. The Dragons’ cause was dented when Sione Tuipulotu was sin-binned mid-way through the first-half and the game’s first try arrived while he was on the sidelines.
David Wallace ripped the ball away from Owen 30 metres out and set up a back row drive that ended with Denis Leamy crashing over to make it 14-0. O’Gara then slotted a third penalty before Craig Warlow gave the Dragons their first points with a penalty on the stroke of half-time.
The second half followed a similar pattern with the Munster forwards rolling on to more glory and a second try from a driving line-out by prop Marcus Horan which O’Gara goaled.
The Dragons at least never gave up and were rewarded with a Chapman’s try in the seventh minute of injury time.
(Wales on Sunday).