Bridgend Ravens extended their Principality Premiership winning streak to four games with victory over struggling Swansea at a wintery St Helens.
The Ravens took a slender 6-7 lead back to the changing rooms at half-time thanks to a Luke Morgan try; and second half scores from Nathan Edwards and Ashleigh James were enough to secure the points for the visitors, despite twice being reduced to 14 men.
The victory is another boost for the Ravens, who have turned their season around after a difficult September. They still sit ninth in the Principality Premiership table but are now just four points adrift of seventh and could leapfrog both Cardiff and Newport with a win at Parc y Scarlets on Friday.
Things aren't looking as rosy for the Whites who sit bottom without a win since they triumphed 32-13 over Aberavon back on September 8th. The Swansea faithful will be desperate for a result when they entertain tenth-placed Neath on Friday to ensure their team isn't at the foot of the table at the half-way stage of the season.
Ravens hooker James nearly gave the visitors a very early lead as he broke down the left wing, only to be forced in to touch just short of the try-line. Flyhalf Jamie Murphy also missed a long-range penalty from halfway in a scoreless opening ten minutes. But this early pressure did soon tell. Rhys Ward Jones sidestepped his way down the left touchline and was supported well by the Bridgend forwards, who spread the ball to the opposite wing for Luke Morgan to finish excellently in the corner.
The visitors' scrum lacked the dominance it has shown in recent wins and both sides struggled from the set-piece, with penalties going each way in the first half. Both flyhalfs kicked for territory before Swansea fullback Nicky Thomas slotted over a penalty from 40 metres to cut the deficit to four points.
It was to be Thomas' last contribution to the game, as he hobbled off minutes later and Cameron Clement took over the kicking duties. The number 10 missed his first attempt from distance but had no problem with the second, ensuring his side left the field at half-time trailing by the narrowest of margins.
Half-time: Swansea 6 – 7 Bridgend Ravens
It didn't take long for the Ravens to restore a cushion and the scoreboard read Swansea 6-15 Bridgend just ten minutes later. Edwards was on hand to capitalise from a Swansea knock-on, hacking the ball towards the line and showing good pace to touch down for the score. Another scrum penalty then handed Murphy three points from the Swansea 22m.
Again the Whites fought back and Bridgend were dealt a double blow with just over 20 minutes left. After good work from Swansea hooker Paul John, Ravens prop Jon Thomas attempted to slow the ball down metres from the line. Referee Simon Rees signalled the penalty but allowed the advantage and Aled Jenkins scored in the corner. Rees then sent Thomas to the sin-bin and the gap was down to just two points.
But the Ravens didn't seem fazed by the dismissal and sealed the victory soon afterwards. Five metres from Swansea's line, a neat line-out to Shaun O'Rourke was passed back to hooker James, who barrelled over in the corner.
Ashley Evans came close to securing a winning bonus point but was foiled at the line and the Ravens defence then had to cope with a late yellow card for Steve Winn and some heavy Swansea pressure. Again they showed their defensive resilience and a big tackle by skipper Jonathon Vaughan resulted in a penalty for the visitors with the referee blowing for full-time soon afterwards.
Man of the Match: Ashley Evans