While it wasn’t a great weekend for the Welsh all round, with Scarlets losing a high scoring match against Ulster and Cardiff being routed by a Glasgow Warriors team coached by South African Franco Smith, the fact their lowest ranked team could beat a consistently challenging team like Munster will be a huge confidence booster for the men from the valleys.
What is even more of a talking point though is where Dragons have been in the last while. This was their first win at Rodney Parade in over 18 months and came in a week that was dominated in the Welsh media by speculation over the future of their director of rugby, Dean Ryan.
There was no official confirmation from Dragons officials in the build-up to the Munster game, but the win was recorded with head coach Dai Flanagan being in complete control of the team for the first time.
The Dragons had started their Vodacom URC campaign with a one-sided 44-6 defeat to Edinburgh, so the turnaround was nothing short of remarkable.
Conversely for Munster, starting out in a new era with Graham Rowntree having taken over from South African Van Graan, who has moved to English club Bath, it would have been a chastening experience.
The Dragons win was recorded in the last game of an interesting second round of action in the URC, with several teams making strong statements, not the least the four South African sides, who all recorded victories as the local teams make a much more comfortable start to their second season in the URC than they did the first 12 months ago.
Talking of South Africans, former Bok centre and Toyota Cheetahs coach Smith has been preaching a ball-in-hand style for months now, and since taking over at Glasgow he has been forthright on the style of rugby he wants his charges to play.
Against Cardiff they hit their straps for a 52-24 win that would have made the rest of the competition sit up and take notice, even though Smith himself wasn’t overjoyed and believes much work remains to be done before his men bump into the bigger contending sides in the competition.
“Obviously, I’m very happy for the players. I think they worked hard and wanted to see a result. The fact they were still throwing the ball around in the 84th minute showed their eagerness to play,” Smith said after the game.
“We delved into what we could change this week, the players looked into themselves to see what more they can give, and compliments to them I think they reacted very well. It’s a start, but there is a lot to add to this.
“We need to play with responsibility without the ball as well, but the way we reacted to the mistakes that we did make was heartwarming for me … but we left some points on the table and there is still a long way to go.”
Leinster bounced back after their scare in Italy, where Zebre Parma ran them close, to thump Benetton 42-10. Leinster hooker Dan Sheehan scored four of his side’s six tries and impressed coach Leo Cullen, who praised him and said he was enjoying the rivalry with fellow hooker Ronan Kelleher.
“I was just saying in the coach's box, I’m not sure if I scored four tries in my whole career,” Cullen laughed after the game.
“And he got taken off with 30 minutes to go. Dan is very dynamic in lots of aspects of the game. Clearly the forwards laid a pretty good platform for him on a few of those drives, but he’s looked sharp.”
Leinster face a big derby this weekend when they travel to Belfast to face Ulster in a game that will draw the headlines, especially after Ulster’s 55-39 thriller in winning away at Scarlets.
John Cooney scored 30 points as the Ulstermen were way too good for a game Scarlets in a game that delivered 12 tries.
Weekend Vodacom United Rugby Championship results
Zebre Parma 37 Cell C Sharks 42
Glasgow Warriors 52 Cardiff 24
Leinster 42 Benetton 10
Scarlets 39 Ulster 55
Vodacom Bulls 33 Edinburgh 31
DHL Stormers 38 Connacht 15
Ospreys 27 Emirates Lions 28
Dragons 23 Munster 17