2012/2013 Principality Premiership
Neath 8 v 13 Bridgend
27 October 2012 - The Gnoll, Neath
Bridgend Ravens

Match Report

Neath 8-13 Bridgend Ravens

Bridgend Ravens managed to withstand a torrent of late pressure and held on for a 8-13 victory against Neath, as tempers flared at The Gnoll.

Ravens fly-half Jamie Murphy, who notched up 20 points against Cardiff last weekend, was on form again, scoring all of the visitors' points through a converted try and penalties within the first five minutes of both halves.

But the game was marred by three yellow cards and several punch-ups, as both sides battled hard in the chilly conditions.

It was a nervy end to the match for the travelling fans as Neath scored a try with 15 minutes remaining, but a determined Ravens defence held firm and the Welsh All Blacks had to settle for the losing bonus point.

The Ravens have now won three of their last four matches and are up to 8th in the Principality Premiership, although they could swap places with 10th-placed Newport, who host Pontypridd on Sunday.

Bridgend started the game with purpose when Murphy collected a box kick from scrum-half Chris Williams and made it to the Neath 22m before being hauled down, eventually earning a penalty to the visitors which he sent between the sticks for an early 0-3 lead.

Minutes later, Williams looked certain to score when he darted towards the line but the Neath defence reacted quickly to prevent the try. However, they were unable to stop the Ravens pack from winning the resulting scrum against the head and the ball found its way to Murphy who dived over from close range.

Neath's number 10 Dai Langdon then kicked a penalty to get the hosts on to the scoreboard before the Ravens suffered an injury blow, as winger Glen Lewis was forced to hobble off and John Leyshon was sent on in his place.

Both sides kicked away possession in the run up to the interval but Neath had the next big chance to score as they found themselves with a three-man overlap on the left wing. A fantastic try-saving tackle by Tom Grabham just did enough and the attempted pass missed both supporting players before drifting in to touch. Neath then had a number of penalties five metres from the Ravens line and the first scuffle of the match broke out but it remained 3-10 when referee Kelvin Shorte blew for half-time.

HALF-TIME: Neath 3 – 10 Bridgend Ravens

The Ravens began the second half brightly but lost possession a few metres from the Neath line as they looked to extend the lead. Minutes later, Neath lock Euros Evans intercepted on his own 22m and looked to be away before being rightly called back for offside. Murphy slotted the resulting penalty, widening the gap to ten points.

Bridgend's back line had another opportunity soon afterwards and seemed to create an overlap before referee Shorte stopped the game to deal with another fight. Once the dust settled and the linesmen were consulted, Ravens number 8 Adam Hillier-Rees and Neath's Evans were sent to the bin for ten minutes.

Neither side benefited from the extra space on the field and the only opportunity for points fell to Langdon, who dragged his 22m penalty wide of the mark despite being in front of the posts. However, the referee went to his pocket again with 20 minutes remaining, this time showing Ravens hooker Arthur Ellis the yellow card. Neath soon profited from the binning, with captain Gareth Gravell touching down after a well-worked drive from a line-out.

The hosts then piled on the pressure and tested the Ravens defence on numerous occasions, before replacement Gareth King found himself in space on the right wing, only for Andrew Waite to appear from nowhere and make an incredible tackle to deny the Neath veteran.

Unfortunately, King looked rather the worse for wear after the hit and there followed a long stoppage as the medical team carefully stretchered him off the field with what is hopefully not a serious injury.

When the game restarted, Neath continued to attack but the visitors held firm and eventually won a penalty which Murphy was all too happy to dispatch to touch, heralding the final whistle.

Neath (3) 8

Try: G Gravell    Con: D Langdon

Bridgend Ravens (10) 13

Try: J Murphy    Con: J Murphy    Pens: J Murphy 2

Neath: A Bramwell, K James, R Evans, K Davies, C Morgan, D Langdon, L Jones, N Downs, R Clancy, T Price, E Evans, J Goode, G Gravell (c), L Ward, R Williams

Subs: J Reeves for T Price (67), A W Davies for R Clancy (74), J Griffiths, R Jones, M Rees for L Ward (40), G King for L Jones (65), J Davies for G King (80+5)

Bridgend Ravens: T Grabham, L Morgan, N Edwards, S Winn, G Lewis, J Murphy, C Williams, M Thomas, A Ellis, O Williams, L Peers, L Davies, A Waite, J Vaughan, A Hillier-Rees

Subs: J Thomas for O Williams (71), K Dowding, S Hicks for A Hillier-Rees (76), A Evans, B Thomas, J Leyshon for G Lewis (26), K Barrett, R Apsee

Sin-bin: A Hillier-Rees (48), E Evans (48), A Ellis (61)
Kelvin Shorte (Wales)

Official : Kelvin Shorte (Wales)

Neath Bridgend