Bridgend Ravens recorded their third Prinicpality Premiership
win in a row, triumphing 14-9 over Aberavon in a cold and wet encounter
at the Riverside Hardware Brewery Field.
The Ravens led 11-0 at the break thanks to an Adam Hillier-Rees try, with Jamie Murphy adding a drop-goal and penalty. Aberavon then replaced their fly-half Jamie Davies with Craig Evans whose three second half penalties clawed the deficit back to just two points. But the Ravens were again excellent in defence and Murphy’s late penalty sealed the victory for the hosts.
After victory over Llanelli on the opening day of the season, the Ravens had lost five league matches in a row but, including their 25-7 defeat of Cardiff in the British & Irish Cup, the men from Bridgend have now won four of their last five games. They will also be confident of extending this streak when they travel to St Helens to face bottom-placed Swansea in two weeks’ time.
The rainy conditions made handling difficult for both sides but the powerful Ravens scrum was again winning penalties for the hosts. However, it was Wizards’ fly-half Jamie Davies who had the first opportunity to get on the scoreboard after 14 minutes but his penalty in front of the posts was sent wide.
Aberavon flanker Darryl Thomas was playing his first game since undergoing knee surgery and had to be replaced before the 20 minute mark. The latest is that the medial ligaments have gone again and it will be hoped that he’ll be able to return to the game soon.
The game remained scoreless up until the half-hour mark and a few scuffles started to break out amongst the frustrated players before Murphy stroked a penalty over from the right-hand touchline. Murphy doubled the lead five minutes later with a drop-goal after a strong break down the left wing by Shaun O’Rourke.
The Ravens then had the best of the territory for the remainder of the half and got their reward minutes before the interval. Fullback Ashley Evans followed his own kick and made a superb tackle on Aberavon’s 22m, the ball popped out of the resulting ruck and was spread out to the left to be finished off by Hillier-Rees.
HALF-TIME: Bridgend Ravens 11 – 0 Aberavon
Aberavon had an early penalty in the second half but Davies again missed the target and it proved to be his last contribution to the match, as Craig Evans came on to replace him. It proved to be an inspired change, as the new kicker added three penalties in 20 minutes to reduce the gap to just two points with 15 left on the clock.
But Murphy added another drop-goal, this time with his left boot, to open up a five point gap and the Ravens kept their discipline to see out the result.
Bridgend Ravens (11) 14
Try: A Hillier-Rees Pen: J Murphy Drop-goals: J Murphy 2
Aberavon (0) 9
Pens: C Evans 3
Bridgend Ravens: A Evans, R Ward Jones, N Edwards, S Winn, L Morgan, J Murphy, C Williams, J Thomas, A James, O Williams, S O’Rourke, L Davies, A Waite, J Vaughan, A Hillier-Rees
Subs: R Apsee, R Jones, K Dowding for J Thomas (52), A Jones for S O’Rourke (61), S Hicks for A Hillier-Rees (74), B Thomas, K Barrett, J Leyshon
Aberavon: J Phillips, R Carter, M Jenkins, W Price, S Andrews, J Davies, J Heatley, R Jenkins, E Yardley, A Clatworthy, G Ronan, I Moore (c), D Thomas, N Brown, B Thomas
Subs: R Thomas for J Phillips (70), C Evans for J Davies (47), I Davies for E Yardley (47), C Davies for D Thomas (18), C John for R Jenkins (52), J Tomalin-Reeves for N Brown (65), N White for A Clatworthy (52), R Morris for G Ronan (47)
Referee: Neil Hennessy (Wales)
Man of the Match: Jamie Murphy