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RaboDirect Pro12: Ian Keatley kicks Munster past Dragons
- Glasgow win at Ospreys
- Edinburgh see off Connacht
- Blues and Treviso share spoils
- Leinster leap up to second
Munster claimed their eighth RaboDirect Pro12 win out of nine this season with a battling 18-14 victory over Newport Gwent Dragons at Rodney Parade.
Stand-off Ian Keatley booted all of his side's points with six penalties, while the Dragons managed the only try of an absorbing contest when wing Matthew Pewtner stole in at the corner just after the break.
Dragons outside-half Jason Tovey kicked two penalties and a drop goal as the home side fought until the last few minutes, but they were left to rue a number of costly mistakes when the final whistle blew.
Munster's British and Irish Lions lock Paul O'Connell, partnering Donnacha O'Callaghan in a powerful second row, will take the ugly win that keeps them firmly in the league driving seat at the top of the table.
And it ruined a possible second league victory in consecutive weeks for the seventh-placed Dragons, who took the notable scalp of Glasgow Warriors last weekend.
It was tight from the beginning, signalling the defensive stalemate which the first 40 minutes brought.
Tovey got the first points on the board with a penalty after 11 minutes but missed another from the right touchline soon after.
O'Connell was a tower in the Munster thrusts into the home 22 and, from one of those attacks, the Irishmen were awarded a penalty directly in front of the posts which Keatley slotted easily.
But the highlights of the drab opening period were few and far between with the home side their own worst enemies, knocking the ball on all too easily and frequently.
When Munster infringed just inside their own half on 40 minutes, Tovey stepped up to hoist the ball straight through the uprights and send his side into the break 6-3 ahead.
The Welshmen came out firing after the interval and stormed further in front with a nicely worked move involving scrum-half Richie Rees that sent Pewtner over for an unconverted touchdown.
Tovey had another long-range penalty attempt that missed and that could have made some difference in the final outcome as Keatley began to lead the fightback, despite Munster having Irish international ace Keith Earls sent to the sin-bin for a high tackle on home centre Pat Leach midway through the half.
Another error near their posts saw Keatley pop over his third penalty and he put Munster into a one-point lead on 67 minutes to the joy of a noisy visiting contingent from the Emerald Isle.
A Tovey drop-goal restored the home lead but two more Keatley penalties towards the end and the sin-binning of home lock Cory Hill finished the Dragons off for the night.
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Guinness PRO12 Table
|Saturday 27th December|
|14:40||Glasgow Warriors vs Edinburgh|
|17:15||Ospreys vs Scarlets|
|Sunday 28th December|
|14:00||Zebre vs Treviso|
|Thursday 1st January|
|14:05||Dragons vs Cardiff Blues|
|17:00||Connacht vs Munster|
|Friday 2nd January|
|19:35||Edinburgh vs Glasgow Warriors|
|Saturday 3rd January|
|14:00||Treviso vs Zebre|
|14:40||Leinster vs Ulster|
|17:05||Scarlets vs Ospreys|
|Friday 9th January|
|19:35||Connacht vs Edinburgh|
|19:35||Glasgow vs Scarlets|
|Saturday 10th January|
|14:40||Cardiff Blues vs Leinster|
|15:00||Zebre vs Munster|
|Sunday 11th January|
|14:00||Treviso vs Ulster|
|16:00||Ospreys vs Newport Gwent D'gons|
|Wednesday 14th January|
|TBC||Leinster vs Newport Gwent D'gons|
|TBC||Scarlets vs Connacht|
|TBC||Edinburgh vs Ospreys|
|TBC||Ulster vs Benetton Treviso|
|TBC||Zebre vs Glasgow|
|TBC||Munster vs Cardiff Blues|
|Saturday 21st February|
|TBC||Benetton Treviso vs Cardiff Blues|
|TBC||Newport Gwent D'gons vs Connacht|
|TBC||Leinster vs Zebre|
|TBC||Edinburgh vs Ulster|
|Friday 26th December|
|Ulster 13 - 10 Connacht|
|Munster 28 - 13 Leinster|
|Cardiff Blues 17 - 23 Dragons|
|Sunday 21st December|
|Dragons 25 - 11 Zebre|
|Saturday 20th December|
|Ospreys 31 - 20 Ulster|
|Glasgow Warriors 21 - 18 Munster|
|Friday 19th December|
|Cardiff Blues 21 - 9 Scarlets|
|Edinburgh 48 - 0 Treviso|
|Leinster 21 - 11 Connacht|
|Sunday 30th November|
|Glasgow Warriors 19 - 15 Dragons|
|Saturday 29th November|
|Connacht 14 - 8 Scarlets|
|Leinster 18 - 12 Ospreys|
|Zebre 18 - 10 Edinburgh|
|Friday 28th November|
|Cardiff Blues 36 - 25 Treviso|
|Munster 21 - 20 Ulster|
|Sunday 23rd November|
|Edinburgh 28 - 13 Cardiff Blues|
|Treviso 24 - 24 Leinster|
|Friday 21st November|
|Ulster 25 - 16 Ospreys|
|Connacht 43 - 3 Zebre|
|Scarlets 19 - 9 Glasgow Warriors|
|Dragons 12 - 38 Munster|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com