The 23 point margin was the worst of the seven defeats the reigning Celtic champions have suffered in the two and a bit seasons the three-nation tournament has been running, comfortably outstripping the nine point reverse suffered against Ulster last year.
There was little or nothing to commend in a pretty one-sided first-half as the home team, missing only a Canadian prop and Scottish No 8 from their top team, built on the momentum they had gained in beating the Ospreys and Glasgow at home in previous league games.
It would be fair to say that the Munster coach Alan Gaffney found his squad pared to the bone, but he couldn’t have been happy with the lack of cohesion in his young side in the first half.
Things started to go wrong from the first minute when the opening scrum yielded a penalty to the home team and Craig Warlow kicked the first of his four penalites of the night.
The scrum was under pressrue all night and the former England international Andy Long had an unhappy night with his line-out work. In all, Munster lost seven of their own throw-ins and never really recovered from their lack of composure at forward.
The Dragons, on the other hand, were solid at the scrum, predatory at the line-out and in Jason Forster had the pick of the packs. Jim Williams and David Wallace put up a staunch rearguard action, but their typically battling displays were ultimately drowned out the wave after wave of Dragons attack.
The whole evening was best summed up for Munster fans by the Welsh rugby legend Jonathan Davies who claimed he had ‘never seen a Munster side make so many mistakes or turn in a worse performance for a long, long time’ in his TV summary.
After that early Warlow strike the Dragons went further ahead when Jamie Ringer ran in from close range after Forster had made a deep cut in the Munster defence to grab the game’s first try. Warlow converted from wide out and the home side wre on song.
That 10 point lead was stretched to 16 thanks to two more Warlow penalties and Munster’s response was limited to two penalty misses by Jeremy Staunton and some staunch defence.
The possession that Williams’ side secuired after the break was of better quality and more plentiful and the one thing Munster were able to take from the game was they restricted the rampant home side to a try in each half.
The Dragons’ should have scored more points and were guilty of shunning a potential bonus point when they kicked for goal when awarded a penalty five metres out after crunching the Munster scrum.
Staunton eventually notched the visitors’ first points 14 minutes into the second half and then responded to an immediate drop goal respnse from Warlow with a second strike.
But that was it as far as the men in red were concerned. It was rugby on the back foot, and not very enjoyable for them.
All that was left was for the Dragons’ prop Adam Black to plough over for his side’s second try, to make amends for an earlier point blank miss, and Warlow increased his match tally to 19 with a conversion and final penalty.