By: Paul Hopkins
An outstanding final quarter helped Swansea to an impressive bonus point victory over Bridgend at the Timbuild Brewery Field.
A mistake from the kick off by lock Matt Dodd put his side under immediate pressure and the forwards were penalised for offside. Former Welsh international fly half Matthew Jones kicked his side ahead inside the opening minute.
Swansea looked to hit back immediately, and when number eight Reuben Tucker held on after the tackle at the restart, fly half Liam Popham was given an opportunity to find the corner with a touch finder. The All Whites built an attack, holding off a couple of tough tackles, and were awarded a penalty of their own with tempers flaring. Popham was successful with his effort at goal to tie the scores.
Centre Jamie Murphy became isolated during a Bridgend attack, giving Popham a chance to take play deep inside the Bridgend half. Number eight Will Hickey powered up to the twenty-two, but held on after the tackle, giving the home side some relief.
The visitors were back on the attack moments later through another Popham touch finder. Prop Tom Sloane collected a loose ball at the lineout and his forwards rumbled towards the line with lock Huw Sutton crashing over for the game’s opening try. Popham converted.
Dodd collected a short Bridgend restart, but an infringement at the breakdown gave the Ravens a penalty. Jones found touch on the twenty-two and a patient build up by the pack saw the fly half chip to the corner, forcing winger Josh Carrington to take the ball back over his own line. A powerful scrum five by the home side saw scrum half Harvey Nash stroll over for a try unopposed. Jones converted.
A high tackle on flanker Jay Williams gave Swansea another attacking platform on the Ravens’ twenty-two, but lock Kieran Martin rose superbly to steal the lineout and secure a turnover. Carrington spilled the clearance kick under no pressure to gift Bridgend possession inside his own half.
The visitors turned the tables on their head at the scrum by cleverly working a penalty that Popham chipped to touch. Tucker was penalised for entering a ruck from the side, but Popham’s effort at goal drifted wide of the posts.
Full back Edd Howley made a superb break from his own twenty-two and was well supported by Jamie Murphy. Offside in midfield gave the home side a penalty, but Jones failed with his attempt at goal.
Popham did well to field a loose ball inside his own twenty-two, but Jay Williams held on for too long in the tackle. Jones missed the relatively straightforward effort at goal.
A poor pass by Jamie Murphy was almost intercepted by Carrington for a 50 metre try, but he spilled possession forward. At the next phase centre Osian Knott made a break in midfield, forcing the home defence offside. Popham kicked his side back into the lead.
A scrummaging infringement by the visitors gave Bridgend a penalty and Jamie Murphy turned down the kickable penalty to instead find touch in the corner. It proved a wrong call though as the All Whites stole the lineout.
Half-time:- Bridgend 10-13 Swansea
A mix up between Jamie Murphy and Howley under a high ball placed the Ravens under immediate pressure after the interval, but lock Chris John made amends with a superb steal at the lineout. An opportunistic chargedown by scrum half Connor Tantum resulted in a try for the Whites under the posts. Popham converted.
The home side were awarded a penalty after the visitors’ forwards failed to roll away after the tackle. Jamie Murphy superbly found touch a couple of metres shy of the line and Martin managed to cling onto a loose lineout, but an error at the base of a ruck by replacement scrum half Chris Williams brought an end to the attack.
A superb touch finder by Howley penned Swansea back on their own twenty-two. Replacement lock Owen Morgan did well to take the lineout, but his side were penalised and subsequently marched back 10 yards for dissent. Jamie Murphy kicked to the corner and when the home side illegally brought down an unstoppable maul referee Craig Evans awarded a penalty try and also sent Morgan to the sidelines for ten minutes.
Hooker Owen Thomas gathered loose possession and made a break, but he released the ball back into the hands of a Bridgend man. The All Whites were soon back in possession but replacement fly half James Davies’ kick agonisingly drifted over the dead ball line.
The home scrum began to show its dominance mid way through the second half and a powerful drive earned a penalty. Howley’s effort at goal drifted wide of the posts though.
A poor error by full back Harri Houston almost let in Williams for a try but the ball beat him over the deadball line by a matter of inches.
A clever chip and chase by Jamie Murphy forced Tantum into touch inside the Swansea half, but a poor lineout was grabbed by flanker Callum Bowden, who made great yards upfield. Replacement prop Cameron Jones almost wriggled out of a tackle as the All Whites made it to the twenty-two, and a fantastic flip pass by Jay Williams sent Carrington clear on the wing where he beat his opposite number to score a well taken try. James Davies dragged the conversion well wide.
Yet another infringement at the scrum gave Bridgend a penalty, which Jamie Murphy kicked to the corner, but the Whites’ pack managed to hold the up a maul to regain possession. A word spoken out of turn by the home side saw referee Evans award the visitors a relieving penalty.
The Ravens were penalised for offside at the breakdown with James Davies opting to kick for the posts. This time he was successful and stretched his side’s lead to 11 points.
Winger Dewi Cross was penalised for throwing the ball at a Whites player’s head after the whistle and James Davies found touch on half way. A poor kick downfield by Howley sailed out on the full, gifting the Whites an unexpected lineout on the twenty-two. Bridgend were penalised for offside in midfield and James Davies kicked for the corner in search of a bonus point. The decision paid off as Tantum peeled off a ruck to score. James Davies converted.
Full-time:- Bridgend 17-35 Swansea
Tries:- Harvey Nash (19), Penalty Try (52)
Cons:- Matthew Jones (20)
Pens:- Matthew Jones (2)
Tries:- Huw Sutton (13), Connor Tantum (44, 80+1), Josh Carrington (71)
Cons:- Liam Popham (14, 45), James Davies (80+2)
Pens:- Liam Popham (5, 38), James Davies (76)
Yellow cards:- Owen Morgan (52)
Venue:- Brewery Field, Bridgend
Weather:- Light Cloud, 15C
Referee:- Craig Evans
Man of the match:- Connor Tantum
15 Edd Howley
14 Tom Florence
13 Joe Gatt (rep: Stuart Floyd Elis 68)
12 Jamie Murphy
11 Dewi Cross
10 Matthew Jones (rep: Tom Morgan 40)
9 Harvey Nash (rep: Chris Williams 45)
1 Garyn Phillips (rep: Cai Lewis 58)
2 Gareth Harvey (rep: Lee Murphy 80+2)
3 Ben Warren (rep: Owen Jordan 56)
4 Chris John © (rep: Hemi Barnes 52)
5 Kieran Martin
6 Reuben Tucker (rep: Zac O’Driscoll 48)
7 Joe Grabham
8 Rob Dudley-Jones
16 Lee Murphy
17 Owen Jordan
18 Cai Lewis
19 Hemi Barnes
20 Zac O’Driscoll
21 Chris Williams
22 Stuart Floyd-Elis
23 Tom Morgan
15 Harri Houston
14 Josh Carrington
13 Callum Carson
12 Osian Knott (rep: J Rhys Williams 64)
11 Hanno Dirksen
10 Liam Popham (rep: James Davies 54)
9 Connor Tantum
1 Tom Sloane
2 Owen Thomas (rep: Garin Lloyd 64)
3 Richard Murphy (rep: A;un Dew 75)
4 Matt Dodd
5 Huw Sutton (rep: Owen Morgan 41)
6 Jay Williams ©
7 Callum Bowden
8 Will Hickey
16 Garin Lloyd
17 Cameron Jones
18 Alun Dew
19 Owen Morgan
20 Charlie Davies
21 Ben Ley
22 James Davies
23 J Rhys Williams