Munster moved back to the top of the Celtic League following a tight and nervous victory over the Dragons at Musgrave Park on Saturday night.
Munster: (10) 10:
Dragons: (5) 8:
Skipper Anthony Foley put Munster into an early lead when he touched down in the third minute.
Dragons, like Munster, without their international players, came back with an Adam Black try but a Mossie Lawlor penalty gave Munster a 10-8 lead.
Craig Warlow's penalty was the only score in the second half.
Munster went ahead from their first attack when the Dragons scrum was disrupted in midfield. Lawlor took the ball on, Gary Connolly did well in support and Foley crashed over to the left of the posts.
Lawlor added the conversion, but the Welsh region, smarting from two Heineken Cup defeats by Munster in the past three months, soon got the bit between their teeth.
After Rhys Thomas had been unfortunate not to be awarded a try, his front-row colleague Black ferreted over the line under Foley's last-ditch tackle to score in the ninth minute.
The sin-binning of Dragons lock Peter Sidoli for preventing a quick release, two minutes before the break, handed Munster a man advantage but they failed to add to their 10-5 half-time lead.
If anything, it inspired Paul Turner's visitors - Dragons captain Jason Forster was centimetres away from netting their second try from a 50th-minute maul.
Munster lost winger Dowling to a yellow card, moments later, for a deliberate knock-on, but despite adding a 64th-minute penalty through Warlow, the Dragons could not deny the league's pace-setters.
Dragons captain Jason Forster:
"It was very disappointing, we had them in the pack but couldn't turn our pressure into points.
"The referee gave some weird decisions against us and we felt we crossed for a few tries he didn't see, but you have to get on with it and take your chances when they come.
"We have to learn that when you're at places like this you can't give away stupid penalties when you're in a points-scoring position."
Munster: Payne; Dowling, Murphy, Connolly, Horgan; Lawlor, O'Leary; Roche, Fogarty, Pucciariello, Hogan, O'Driscoll, Keogh, O'Connor, Foley (capt).
Replacements: Buckley for Roche (66), Kavanagh for J. O'Connor (72).
Not Used: Varley, Ryan, Prendergast, Halstead, Burke.
Dragons: Thomas; Fussell, Tuipulotu, Sweeney, Breeze; Warlow, Cooper; Black, Jones, Thomas, Griffiths, Sidoli, Ringer, Forster (capt), Oakley.
Replacements: Bryant for Tuipulotu (76), Maddocks for Black (72), Hall for Griffiths (62), Van Rensberg for Oakley (62).
Not Used: Brown, Robinson, Walker.
Referee: Malcolm Changleng (Scotland)