By: Paul Hopkins
Swansea failed to make it two wins in a week over Bridgend as the Ravens closed out their 2022/23 campaign with a hard earned victory.
It was a bright start for the home side when an outstanding chip and chase by full back Edd Howley was hacked on further by winger Stuart Floyd-Ellis, but scrum half Gareth J Rees did well to track back to defend. The Ravens’ were too eager to regain possession though and gave away a penalty after failing to allow Rees back on his feet.
Floyd Ellis lost his footing when taking a high ball and was penalised for holding on after the tackle. Fly half James Davies found touch inside the Bridgend 22 with the penalty with lock Matt Dodd rising high to claim the lineout, before flanker Tristan Davies powered up to within a metre of the line.
Play was brought back for an earlier penalty and James Davies dinked the ball into touch a few metres from the try line. This time Swansea recycled the ball quickly out wide for debutant winger Iestyn Galton to touch down in the corner. James Davies converted.
The Whites gave away a penalty at the restart and fly half Luke Price chose to kick into the corner. Lock Jack Pope took the lineout and the home pack rumbled forward, but Swansea managed to secure a turnover.
A horrendous pass by centre Hanno Dirksen sailed behind his intended target with Floyd-Ellis sneaking in to score a try. Price converted.
Flanker Aled Evans took a lineout on half way but Dirksen dealt with Howley’s chip ahead. The All Whites counterattacked through winger Matthew Jenkins, who backed his pace to break through two tackles. Number eight Sam Moore provided support, but was caught in two minds upon reaching the 22 and was bundled into touch.
A Swansea mistake gifted the home side a scrum just outside the 22, which the visitors promptly collapsed to give away a penalty. Price found touch deep inside the 22 with the Ravens close to scoring before they were penalised for offside.
The Whites tried a clever penalty with James Davies chipping across field to find full back Gareth O Rees, but it was well telegraphed by the Bridgend defence, who earned a penalty of their own, which Price kicked to touch. The visitors managed to steal possession on the floor and were able to clear though.
Winger Powell showed great strength inside the Swansea 22, but a pass out wide was intercepted by Jenkins so the visitors were able to clear.
Prop Ben Warren was penalised for speaking out of turn to referee Elfyn Morris-Roberts and Price found touch deep inside the Swansea 22. The home side tried to get quick ball out to the backs and Dirksen almost intercepted the pass, but lost possession forward.
Another infringement at the scrum gave the Ravens a penalty and this time Price brought some calm to proceedings by kicking the three pointer.
James Davies’ restart failed to reach the 10 metre line, giving Bridgend a scrum on half way. But moments later a mistake by opposite number Price, whose chip ahead went dead, gifted the visitors their own scrum on half way.
Dirksen burst through a Bridgend tackle and into the 22, but the supporting centre Osian Knott failed to take the pass, which would have resulted in an almost certain try.
Bridgend gave away a free kick near their own try line, which scrum half Gareth J Rees took quickly and found Moore, who powered forward, but the visitors failed to make the most of the attack.
Price pounced on a loose pass and chipped up to the Swansea line, with the defending Jenkins driven back over his own line to give the home side an attacking scrum five.
The home side got quick ball out of the set piece and found Howley, who backed his pace and power to score a try on the stroke of half time. Price converted.
Half-time:- Bridgend 17-7 Swansea
A poor kick by Price sailed out on the full to give Swansea a lineout inside the Ravens’ half. Lock Lewis Jones rose high to collect the ball and replacement flanker Sam Richards was well held when trying to burst through. Centre Nathan Edwards was penalised though for backchat and James Davies found touch inside the opposing 22.
A penalty was reversed and Dirksen was shown a yellow card for a his part in starting a small melee.
The visitors were soon back on the attack though with James Davies finding touch a few metres from the line with a penalty. Lewis Jones took the lineout, but his side were penalised for an offside offence.
Swansea got themselves back into the match when Jenkins picked up a ball in midfield and backed his pace to glide past a couple of tacklers to touch down in the corner. James Davies missed the conversion.
Floyd-Ellis lost his footing after taking a high kick and gave away a penalty, which James Davies duly converted.
An awkward chip ahead by Powell was well defended by Swansea, and a superb kick by James Davies forced Price into a hurried clearance.
Replacement centre Ryan Edwards burst through a tackle, reaching the 22, and a delayed Price pass to Floyd-Ellis caused panic in the Swansea defence, with prop Cameron Jones shown a yellow card for a professional foul.
Swansea paid a heavy price with Price finding touch deep inside the Swansea 22 with the penalty, and an unstoppable rolling maul saw replacement hooker Gareth Harvey crash over for a try. Price converted.
The Bridgend forwards were penalised for offside at the ruck and James Davies kicked to the corner. The visitors went in search of a losing bonus point and tried to create a rolling maul, but it was steered into touch by the Bridgend pack.
Full-time:- Bridgend 24-15 Swansea
Tries:- Stuart Floyd-Ellis (11), Edd Howley (40+5), Gareth Harvey (76)
Cons:- Luke Price (12, 40+6, 77)
Pens:- Luke Price (31)
Tries:- Iestyn Galton (7), Matthew Jenkins (59)
Cons:- James Davies (8)
Pens:- James Davies (63)
Yellow cards:- Hanno Dirksen (51), Cameron Jones (75)
Venue:- Brewery Field, Bridgend
Weather:- Drizzle, 11C
Referee:- Elfyn Morris-Roberts
Man of the match:- Luke Price
15 Edd Howley
14 Stuart Floyd-Ellis
13 Joseph Gatt (rep: Ryan Edwards 66)
12 Nathan Edwards (rep: Rhys Williams 52)
11 Mike Powell
10 Luke Price
9 Chris Williams
1 Rhodri Apsee (rep: Harry Olding 52)
2 Evan Yardley (rep: Gareth Harvey 52)
3 Liam Tobias (rep: Math Iorwerth-Scott 48)
4 Ben Thomas
5 Jack Pope (rep: Ethan Evans 80+3)
6 Aled Evans (rep: Kieran Martin 77)
7 Zac O’Driscoll ©
8 Reuben Tucker
16 Gareth Harvey
17 Harry Olding
18 Math Iorwerth-Scott
19 Kieran Martin
20 Ethan Evans
21 Jakob Williams
22 Rhys Williams
23 Ryan Edwards
15 Gareth O Rees
14 Iestyn Galton (rep: Dale Ford 62)
13 Hanno Dirksen (rep: Tom Crockett 80+5)
12 Osian Knott
11 Matthew Jenkins (rep: Sam Matthews 69)
10 James Davies
9 Gareth J Rees
1 Cameron Jones
2 Owen Thomas (rep: Garan Williams 77)
3 Ben Warren (rep: Richard Murphy 72)
4 Lewis Jones
5 Matt Dodd
6 Tristan Davies (rep: Sam Richards 40+4)
7 Callum Bowden ©
8 Sam Moore
16 Garan Williams
17 Tom Crockett
18 Richard Murphy
19 Sam Martin
20 Sam Richards
21 Liam Popham
22 Sam Matthews
23 Dale Ford