Bridgend Ravens scored three tries in a spirited second half comeback but it was too little too late as Carmarthen Quins emerged with a winning bonus point at The Park.
Despite seeing an equal amount of possession and territory in the first period, the Quins found themselves 18-0 up at the half, profiting from a number of penalties awarded by referee James Jones. The hosts added two more tries in the second half and despite two excellent late tries from Tom Habberfield and Luke Morgan, the Ravens were unable to take any points back to Bridgend.
The win means Carmarthen stay in sixth place in the Principality Premiership table and keeps them in sight of the leaders. The Ravens remain ninth and top of the Ospreys-region clubs but will need to get a result at The Arms Park next Saturday to pull away from chasing Neath.
At the top of the table, Bedwas pulled further ahead of second-placed Llandovery with a bonus point win against struggling Aberavon, whilst the Drovers were held to 18-18 draw against Newport at Rodney Parade.
Both kickers struggled from the tee in the opening minutes, with Lewis Williams pushing two similar kicks wide of the posts and James Dixon also missing the target. Dixon was soon handed more opportunities at goal however, and he slotted his next two attempts with ease. The second of these followed a yellow card for Ravens lock Alex Jones which incensed the travelling fans, as a high tackle on skipper Jonny Vaughan seemed to have been missed by the officials just moments earlier.
The Quins didn't take long to capitalise on the numerical advantage, scrum half Connor Lloyd crossing the line after darting through a hole in the Ravens defence. Jones returned to the field after his ten minutes had elapsed but the momentum was already with the home side and the deficit was soon extended to 18 points. Dixon jinked his way through the defensive line and showed good composure to offload the ball to Lee Williams who in turn found fellow winger Jason Harries, the big number 11 finishing off the move in the corner.
Half-time: Carmarthen Quins 18 – 0 Bridgend Ravens
Carmarthen started the second half much the same as they finished the first. This time it was right-winger Williams who put his name on the scoresheet and suddenly the points looked to be in the bag for the Quins. However, the Ravens began to look more confident with ball in hand and embarked on a period of heavy pressure close to the Quins' line. Owain Lloyd looked to have scored but was adjudged to have crossed the touchline before grounding the ball. However, minutes later he got his reward after some strong play from the forwards.
The hopes of a comeback were soon doused as Arthur Ellis became the second Ravens player to receive a yellow card before Harries got his second score of the afternoon to extend the lead to 30-7 with five minutes left. But again Bridgend refused to give up and went hunting for bonus points. A try from a quick tap penalty by the opportunistic Habberfield gave the away fans something to cheer about but this was soon followed by a third try.
Replacement scrum half Chris Williams made a fantastic break and timed his pass to Morgan to perfection, the winger showing the covering defenders a clean pair of heels. Lewis Williams added the conversion to bring the scores to a far more respectable 30-19. Unfortunately, the Ravens ran out of time and were unable to add a fourth try which would have awarded them two losing bonus points but the second-half resolve shown is a big positive ahead of the trip to Cardiff on the 12th January.