DEAN Ryan’s frequent summer warnings not to expect miracles proved to be on the money as the Dragons started their season with a heavy 39-9 loss at Munster in the Guinness PRO14.

The new boss at Rodney Parade began his reign with a five-try defeat to title contenders at a sodden Thomond Park.

Director of rugby Ryan had warned that there was no hiding in games at Munster but his team was given one.

The Dragons had dazzled in the Newport sun in their pre-season success against the Scarlets but competition rugby in the rain of Limerick was always going to be a far tougher test.

There was no shortage of fight from the visitors but they were outclassed by the Irish province, who showed far more of a cutting edge.

The Dragons had a glut of scoring opportunities in the second half but failed to take any and will head to Zebre next weekend without anything in their tries for column.

That trip to Parma provides the chance to really get things up and running under Ryan and the new boss will expect more snap, both with and without the ball.

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The Dragons headed to Limerick in search of the day's second upset after Japan's stunning triumph against Ireland.

The Rodney Parade region's last PRO14 win on the road stretched back further than the Brave Blossom's famous shock of South Africa in Brighton.

One of Ryan's major targets is to end that hoodoo – which goes back to Treviso in March, 2015 – but achieving that was always going to be hard at Thomond Park with next weekend’s trip to Zebre a more winnable fixture.

The Irish province hadn't lost at home in any competition since December, 2017 while the Dragons' sole victory on Munster soil was in the first season of regional rugby.

They hadn’t left an Irish ground with anything to show for their efforts since a narrow loss to Connacht in Galway two years ago, so anything would have been a bonus and the start was encouraging.

The Dragons opened the scoring in the third minute with a sweet strike from Davies after Munster were slow in rolling away.

With the wind at their backs and the drizzle falling, the visitors employed a kick-heavy game plan to dominate territory in the opening exchanges.

That prevented the Munstermen from building up a head of steam but the Dragons weren’t able to move the scoreboard along in slippery conditions.

They paid the price for that when the men in the extremely bright red jerseys opted for the corner rather than the posts after gaining a foothold in the 22.

The Dragons, who lost centre Jack Dixon to a shoulder injury, defended the drives well but the pressure told when number eight Arno Botha powered over.

Fly-half JJ Hanrahan added the conversion and then, after a long-range miss by Davies, put over a penalty for a 10-3 lead after 25 minutes.

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The Dragons pack earned another shot at goal for their new fly-half with a strong scrum and this time he made no mistake to reduce the gap to four points approaching the half hour.

However, they finished the half down to 14 men after Richard Hibbard was given a yellow card for a high tackle – a hit that would have had no grumbles when he was starting his career at Aberavon but now a no-go.

It didn’t take long for Munster to make the most of their advantage with flanker Jack O’Donoghue – after a hint of a knock-on in the build-up, dotting the ball on the line from close range and Hanrahan adding the routine extras for 17-6.

A third try soon followed courtesy of a smart finish by wing Shane Daly who chipped over front rowers Brok Harris and Ellis Shipp to gather down the left for 22-6.

Davies reduced the gap with a penalty just before the break but it was cancelled out two minutes after the restart by Hanrahan.

The Dragons were given an opening when home full-back Mike Haley was sin-binned for a tackle around the neck of debutant Owen Jenkins.

The visitors enjoyed a spell of pressure in the 22, kicking penalties to the corner but were unable to muscle their way over to get themselves back in the contest.

The Dragons shipped two tries and 12 points when they were down to 14 but failed to move their score along when enjoying an advantage.

No sooner were Munster back to 15 than they came agonisingly close to bagging their bonus when Daly charged down opposite number Ashton Hewitt only for the ball to roll just over the deadball line.

They didn’t have to wait long – centre Rory Scannell made easy yards into the 22 off lineout ball and then his midfield partner Tyler Bleyendaal slid over for the fourth.

The Dragons had more chances to get going in the 22 but were showed how to do it at the death when a penalty was kicked to the corner and replacement hooker Diarmuid Barron went over.

Dragons: J Williams, O Jenkins (E Shipp 33-40), A Warren, J Dixon (T Morgan 14), A Hewitt (J Botica 60); S Davies, R Williams (captain, T Knoyle 71); B Harris (R Bevington 55), R Hibbard, L Brown (L Fairbrother 64), J Davies (M Williams 65), M Screech, H Taylor (T Basham 69), O Griffiths (E Shipp 71), L Evans.

Scorers: penalties – S Davies (3)

Munster: M Haley; D Sweetnam, R Scannell, T Bleyendaal, S Daly; JJ Hanrahan, N McCarthy; J Loughman, K O’Byrne, S Archer; F Wycherley, B Holland (captain); J O’Donoghue, T O’Donnell, A Botha. Replacements: D Barron, J Cronin, K Knox, D O’Shea, C Cloete, A Mathewson, L Coombes, J O’Sullivan.

Scorers: tries – A Botha, J O’Donoghue, S Daly, T Bleyendaal, D Barron; conversions – JJ Hanrahan (4); penalties – JJ Hanrahan (2)

Referee: Ben Blain (Scotland)

Attendance: 10,878

Argus star man: Ollie Griffiths