Lacklustre Whites still off colour

Swansea 26 Bridgend 25
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The Independent Online

Swansea's prodigal son, Arwel Thomas, returned to action after his lengthy knee problems as a 26th-minute replacement, but not even his magic could conjure up enough points to help last season's Welsh-Scottish League champions break their duck.

With their Lions players Mark Taylor, Scott Gibbs and Darren Morris all ruled out for lengthy periods, and fellow Australian tourist Colin Charvis still resting, Swansea's resources have certainly been stretched to the limit at the start of the new campaign,

Losing to Ulster in Belfast on the opening night of the new Celtic League was one thing, but after this defeat the Whites find themselves at the bottom of not only Pool A of that tournament, but also of the Welsh/Scottish League.

The return to fitness of Thomas is an obvious boost in these troubled times, allowing the multi-talented Gavin Henson to fill in at centre rather than outside half, but it looks like being a long, hard slog for the reigning champions this season.

As for big-spending Bridgend, the relief of finally turning their potential on paper into reality on the field was etched all over their faces at the end. Not that they are anywhere near title potential just yet.

Their lineout was a shambles, they lack any notable ball-carriers up front and their scrum is prone to pressure. But they can create behind the scrum and have some priceless game-breakers in their ranks.

One of those is the centre Adrian Durston, who made a mockery of Swansea's midfield defence to pave the way for his side's first try after 23 minutes, his delightful break being finished off by the Tongan full-back, Josh Taumalolo, with a try at the posts.

Two more tries followed in a three-minute burst at the start of the second half. Durston's seemingly ageless centre partner, John Devereux, crashed over for the first, and then Durston helped himself to the next when he charged down's Henson's clearance kick.

With the former Swansea outside-half, Cerith Rees, hoisting his personal tally to 10 points with a conversion of Durston's try, Bridgend were in command at 25-9. They tended to sit on their lead rather than chase more points, but they defended well and restricted Swansea to a Matthew Robinson try, created by some nifty footwork from Thomas, and a Henson conversion.

Swansea: Try Robinson; Conversion Henson; Penalties Henson (2); Drop-goal: A Thomas. Bridgend: Tries J Taumalolo, J Devereux, A Durston; Conversions C Rees (2); Penalties C Rees (2).

Swansea: S Payne; R Rees, M Brailey, S Winn (A Thomas, 26); M Robinson, G Henson; R Jones (S Martens, 58), A Le Chevalier, C Wells, B Evans (J Masters, 58), A Moore, J Griffiths (L Jones, 58), G Lewis, D Thomas (capt), H Jenkins (J Bater, 79).

Bridgend: J Taumalolo; G Thomas, J Devereux, A Durston, M Peters; C Rees, J Hewlett; C Loader, C Ferris (A Joy, 28-41, 57), J Thiel (C Noon, 18-30), N Budgett, C Stephens (capt), R Bryan, J Ringer, S van Rensberg (M Molitika, 71).

Referee: T Spreadbury (RFU).

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