By: Paul Hopkins
The All Whites overcame a tough encounter with Tata Steel to record a bonus point victory and rise to the summit of the Championship.
The home side should have scored in the opening few minutes when the pack drove up to the Swansea line, only for flanker David Griggs to lose the ball over the line.
Then it was the visitors’ turn to mount an attack when lock Tudor Hughes claimed a lineout and sent fellow lock Gavin Ronan and flanker Jack Perkins charging through the middle, only for the Tata defence to steal the ball and clear.
Centre Liam Gadd then sprinted down the wing, but hooker Paul John turned him over and began an attack for the visitors. However it ended in a comedy of errors as both sides were unable to get their hands of the ball for more than a couple of phases.
Swansea claimed the first try after 21 minutes when number eight Jon Fox pealed off a scrum and handed a scoring pass to flanker Mike Sully. Fly half Jack Wilson converted.
Wilson extended his side’s lead to 10 points with a penalty goal after Tata winger Jordan Skidmore committed an off the ball foul.
The Whites scored a second try when winger Andrew Claypole took the ball at pace on the twenty-two and sprinted clear to score with the Tata defence unable to lay a hand on him. Wilson converted.
Deep into first half injury time Griggs turned over possession to set up a platform for fly half Simon Evans to chip to the corner for the chasing Skidmore to score. Centre Rory Williams missed his conversion attempt.
Half-time:- Tata Steel 5 Swansea 17
Replacement prop Lloyd Elliott was penalised for holding on after the tackle and Wilson opted to kick to the corner. Perkins came close to scoring, but the Tata defence somehow managed to steal the ball and clear.
The home side kept losing the ball at the ruck and Swansea almost made them pay when prop Mitchell Walsh ran down the wing and found scrum half Matthew Aubrey, but his chip ahead crept over the line into touch.
Swansea were temporarily reduced to 14 men when Aubrey was shown a yellow card for preventing the home side from taking a quick tap penalty.
Tata Steel took full advantage of the extra man with Skidmore showing scintillating pace to clear the Whites’ defence and throw a well-timed pass to full back Lloyd Rogers, who scored in the corner. Williams missed the conversion.
Any hopes of a Tata comeback were soon extinguished when winger Richard Thomas sprinted down his wing, before the ball was recycled quickly out to the other side of the pitch for full back Josh Flye to score. Wilson missed the conversion.
Swansea claimed a bonus point just four minutes from time when replacement full back Liam Popham picked up a loose ball and found the impressive Ronan in support. He drew in the Tata defence and Perkins took advantage of a five man overlap out wide to score. Wilson missed the conversion though.
It was an unsavoury end to the match as Tata prop Ceri Jones was sent to the sin-bin for fighting.
Next up for Tata Steel is a home match against promotion hopefuls RGC 1404, while Swansea host Bridgend Athletic.
Full time:- Tata Steel 10 Swansea 27
Tata Steel scorers:
Tries:- Jordan Skidmore (40+4), Lloyd Rogers (54)
Y cards:- Ceri Jones (80)
Tries:- Mike Sully (21), Andrew Claypole (35), Josh Flye (67), Jack Perkins (76)
Cons:- Jack Wilson (22, 36)
Pens:- Jack Wilson (26)
Y cards:- Matthew Aubrey (51)
Venue:- Corus Sports Ground, Port Talbot
Referee:- Ben Whitehouse
Weather:- Clear, 7C
Man of the match:- Gavin Ronan
Tata Steel team:
15 Lloyd Rogers
14 Jordan Skidmore
13 Liam Gadd
12 Rory Williams
11 Kristian Jenkins
10 Simon Evans
9 Jay Harris
1 Dai Edwards (rep: Lloyd Elliot 28)
2 Owen Thomas (rep: Josh Clarke 67)
3 Ceri Jones
4 Danny Hockin
5 James Locke
6 Ryan Hall (rep: Matthew Llewellyn 35)
7 David Griggs
8 Robbie Morgan
16 Brett Thomas
17 Lloyd Elliot
18 Matthew Llewellyn
19 Luke Joseph
20 Josh Clarke
15 Josh Flye (rep: Liam Popham 73)
14 Andrew Claypole
13 Jedd Evans
12 Elliott Clement
11 Richard Thomas
10 Jack Wilson
9 Matthew Aubrey (rep: Rhodri Wells 62)
1 Dan Kenny (rep: Richard Murphy 44)
2 Paul John (rep: Ollie Young 80)
3 Mitchell Walsh
4 Gavin Ronan
5 Tudor Hughes
6 Jack Perkins
7 Mike Sully
8 Jon Fox (rep: Rory Gallagher 62)
16 Ollie Young
17 Richard Murphy
18 Rory Gallagher
19 Rhodri Wells
20 Liam Popham