Bridgend 25 Edinburgh Reivers 3

IT is not so much the Welshmen who are creating the biggest problems for Scotland's superteams in Wales, but the South Sea islanders who have invaded the principality.

That was the novel observation of Reivers coach Frank Hadden after he had watched his side's latest away defeat in the Celtic League.

Hadden hotly denied that there was a massive psychological barrier standing in the way of progress for the Reivers and the Reds, pointing instead to the enormous contribution made to Bridgend's cause by their Tongan imports - centre Josh Taumalolo and flanker Maama Molitika.

While two players don't make a team, they certainly can turn an average outfit into one which is capable of competing with the best. Hence Bridgend's early season role as championship pacesetters.

''They have the running skills and ball-handling ability which our players don't seem to have,'' declared Hadden.

''There is absolutely nothing wrong with our attitude or commitment. Our weakness is that we don't recognise the scoring opportunities, let alone take them.''

He added: ''It was very disappointing that we couldn't make more of the possession which we had earned through the efforts of our forwards.

''We did try to set targets, but we did not have the cutting edge. We defended well, but couldn't do much in attack.

''There have been improvements here and there, but it is a question of trying to pull the whole thing together before the start of the European Cup - and that takes time. Europe is everyone's major target but, of course, we also want to do well in the league.''

Sadly, it was an all too familiar story for the inconsistent Reivers as they slipped and slithered at rainswept Brewery Field. They simply could not reproduce the form which had earned them a midweek victory over Llanelli on home turf.

They started in spirited fashion in the driving drizzle and initially looked capable of at least being upsides with their hosts. But, as Hadden so clearly acknowledged, when it came to snapping up the chances, they were a struggling second best.

Scrum half Graeme Burns underlined the policy of moving the ball at every opportunity and the enterprise spread to their forwards, where lock Richard Metcalfe made two outstanding bursts in the opening 20 minutes.

Reivers, with nine Scottish internationalists in their side, as opposed to the home team's four Welsh and two Tongan caps, put the tricky conditions to the back of their minds as they attacked positively, but in vain.

Bridgend played in fits and starts in the opening quarter, although their wing Gareth Jones, celebrating his 100th appearance for the club, almost got clear after 26 minutes.

It took a brilliant tackle by opposite number Kenny Milligan to halt him and prevent the Ravens from outflanking the Reivers for the first time in the match.

The lively Burns was held up five metres short of the line before Bridgend went ahead against the run of play after 36 minutes with a well constructed try.

Taumololo showed his strength in the tackle as he stayed on his feet to feed midfield partner Adrian Durston, who then set openside flanker Jamie Ringer free.

Ringer, stepson of former Wales cult hero Paul, made ground before handing on to skipper and scrum Huw Harries, who crusied over at the posts for his first league try for Bridgend. Craig Warlow added the conversion.

Reivers stand-off Gordon Ross was wide with a difficult penalty soon after, but in the thirty-ninth minute he landed his second attempt from 40 metres for offside to give the Scots a boost.

In a frantic end to the half, Bridgend were disallowed a try for crossing in their midfield, but mysteriously given a penalty instead which Warlow duly slotted.

Reivers were let off when Warlow missed two difficult penalties in the worsening conditions.

Giant lock Metcalfe won a good stream of quality possession for the visitors at the lineout and from one of his clean takes Graham Dall was almost driven over the home line.

Dall then showed up well in defence as he put in a try saving tackle on the dangerous Taumololo - but their hopes of a fightback were soon dashed.

Warlow increased Bridgend's lead with a penalty from in front of the posts for offside after 55 minutes, with Ross off-target at the other end.

The Ravens turned on the power and mighty Molitika ploughed over for their second try, converted by full back Gareth Cull.

There was still time for No.8 Richard Bryan to claim another touchdown to keep them firmly at the head of the title race.

Bridgend coach Dennis John paid tribute to his side after watching them register a fourth successive league win - their third in a week.

''I can't speak highly enough of the players,'' said John.

''Some of them are out on their feet but to have come through such a tough week with a 100 per cent record makes it worthwhile.

''I thought our defence was outstanding. Edinburgh are virtually an international side and to restrict them to only three points is a tremendous achievement.''

Bridgend - G Cull; G Jones, S Taumololo, A Durston, S Hill; C Warlow, H Harries; A Griffiths, C Ferris (A Joy 41-52, 75), L Mustoe(R Price 67), P Clapham (T Collier 61), C Stephens, M Molitika, J Ringer (D Niblo 75), R Bryan.

Edinburgh Reivers - D Lee; C Murray, K Utterson, G Shiel (captain), K Milligan; G Ross, G Burns; A Jacobsen, S Scott, B Stewart (C Smith 19-26), R Metcalfe (A Lucking 61), I Fullerton, N Hines (T Weir 63), S Taylor, G Dall.

Referee - T Rowlands (Treorchy).

Scoring sequence (Bridgend first): 7-0, 7-3, 10-3 (half-time); 13-3, 20-3, 25-3.

Scorers: Bridgend: Tries - Harries (36), Molitika (74), Bryan (80); Conversions - Warlow (36), Cull (74); Penalties - Warlow (40, 56).

Reivers: Penalty - Ross (40).