Top of the table Llandovery comfortably defeated Bridgend Ravens at Church Bank on Saturday afternoon.
The Drovers came into the game in impeccable form, winning both of their opening games. Bridgend won their opening tie against Llandovery's regional friends Llanelli, before slumping to defeat at Cross Keys last time out.
The Ravens started on the back foot, with Scott Hicks earning valuable turnover ball in their own 22 as Llandovery looked certain to score. With Bridgend now in possession, Kyle Barrett sent a kick long, and the chase from Glen Lewis almost resulted in the opening score of the game.
The first try did come after twelve minutes, as a loose kick from Bridgend full back Ashley Evans saw Shaun Miles run in near the posts. Cerith Rees added the extras.
With Llandovery now well on top, the Bridgend defence held tight through a series of attacks, with Ashley Evans, Nathan Edwards and Ken Dowding making vital contributions.
The Ravens came more into the game, as a chip ahead from winger Glen Lewis almost resulted in the levelling of the scores. However, they didn’t have to wait long. A short lineout by hooker Matt Dwyer completely fooled the Llandovery pack and Lloyd Peers was able to power over from close range. Ben Thomas added an excellent conversion from out wide.
Following the restart, Llandovery attacked relentlessly, with a turnover from prop Ken Dowding halting the progress of the West Walians. Although these acts of heroism held out the Drovers for a short period, an infringement at the ruck allowed Cerith Rees to restore the lead of the home side.
The restart was poor from Bridgend and Llandovery spread the ball along the line, and the flowing backs move was finished by winger Chris Knight. The conversion from Rees sailed wide of the post. In a double blow, the Ravens were forced into a change, with Captain Jonathon Vaughan replaced by Arthur Ellis, who was making his own comeback from a long term injury.
With minutes left of the half, the away side were made to defend and did so with some success, although an infringement by Scott Hicks allowed Cerith Rees to stretch the lead to eleven points as the half time whistle loomed.
Half Time: Llandovery 18-7 Bridgend Ravens.
Bridgend came onto the field a totally different side early on in the second half. With their first prolonged period of possession, Ben Thomas was able to release his exciting outside backs. Nathan Edwards, Andrew Waite and Ben himself all made good breaks to no avail.
With the wasteful Ravens spurning numerous opportunities, it was down to Llandovery’s Lee Rees to show teach them a lesson in finishing, running in a fantastic try for Llandovery.
To their credit, Bridgend picked up where they had left off before Llandovery crossed. Arthur Ellis and Andrew Waite both went close off stolen ball. Kyle Barrett now had platform in which he created numerous scoring opportunities as Bridgend won three consecutive penalties in the red zone.
The Drovers showed their prowess at the breakdown, winning another turnover close to their own line. Their confidence showed and they spread the ball relentlessly. The flowing move was halted by Ravens wing Rhys Williams, who put in a superb last ditch challenge. They were not to be denied for long though, as a close range move was finished off by Tom Ball, clinching the bonus point. Rees put wide the simple conversion.
With their tails up, Llandovery continued to attack and scrum half Rhodri Williams scored another for the home side to put the result well beyond doubt.
The full time whistle loomed, and as Llandovery searched for further scores, Jamie Murphy intercepted a loose pass and ran the length of the pitch to score a consolation for Bridgend. Thomas hit the post with the conversion from wide out and Jonathan Mason blew for full time, with the league leaders’ comfortable winners.
Youngster Andrew Waite reflected on a disappointing day at the office. ‘I was really glad to start my first game this season, but it was a disappointing result.’
‘We were strong in some areas of the game, although we struggled to keep possession at times. Hopefully we will improve on this performance and come out on top against Cardiff next time out.’
Bridgend face a tricky trip against rivals Cardiff next at the Riverside Hardware Brewery Field, where they’ll be looking for an improvement in fortunes against the capital side who came out rampant winners against Newport. Tickets for the game are £10 for access to all areas, with Under 16’s FREE.
Bridgend: Ashley Evans, Rhys Williams, Nathan Edwards, Sam Campbell, Glen Lewis, Ben Thomas (Jamie Murphy 46), Kyle Barrett (Chris Williams 69); Ken Dowding (Marc Thomas 57), Matthew Dwyer (Ash James 74), Dan Sutter (Jon Thomas 57), Lloyd Peers (Lee Davies 74), Alex Jones, Andrew Waite, Jonathon Vaughan (c) (Arthur Ellis 31), Scott Hicks.
Unused Sub: Luke Morgan
Scorers: Tries: Lloyd Peers (18), Jamie Murphy (84). Conversions: Ben Thomas (18).