Bridgend Ravens staged a sensational comeback to beat Newport at Rodney Parade.
The game seemed all but over at half time, after Newport raced in for their fourth try, but Ben Rose’ resurgent troops somehow came back to win their first league game since November.
It was a good start for Bridgend. All the pressure came from the visitors and after an early scrap, Lewis Williams slotted a penalty from 45 yards.
Following this, an onslaught ensued from the hosts and Bridgend had to hold out as their scrum was charged backwards. Glen Holloway cleared after an impressive turnover by the sensational Jon Vaughan. This did not stop Newport breaking through, as Geraint O’Driscoll opened the scoring for the Black and Ambers.
O’Driscoll followed up his penalty with a try minutes later. Fed the ball by Newport’s impressive backs, the fullback scored out wide. He put the conversion past the post.
The Ravens battled back, and were ahead again in this see-saw encounter after an overthrown lineout was collected by Scott Hicks. This saw the number eight race to the line. Lewis Williams nailed the conversion.
With the crowd still catching their breath, Newport struck again through Craig Attwell, O’Driscoll extended the lead.
From then on, it was downhill for Bridgend in the first forty. Yellow cards for Jon Thomas and Shaun O’Rourke alongside two Newport front rowers halted the flow of the game.
In this period, Newport would run in two more tries to seemingly put the game to bed. Dan Robinson and Elliot Frewen crossed in succession to increase the hosts score.
HT: Newport 27-10 Bridgend (4-1T).
Whatever Ben Rose and Vaughan said to their players at half time obviously worked. A second half comeback to mirror that seen when the sides met last season never really seemed on the cards, but the defiant Ravens were not to be denied.
Lloyd Evans scored early on in the half with his side taking the initiative from the outset. The try came from another overthrow, but the exceptional backrower raced past three tacklers to score. Williams kicked the points to give the visitors hope.
Minutes later, Williams hit the post with another effort, but with pressure on the follow up, he was finally able to kick a penalty to bring Bridgend within a score.
Bridgend looked certain to score after a series of scrums in the red zone, but Newport escaped following a knock on over the line.
What happened next turned the game on its head. Newport received a red card in the midst of a maul and Bridgend were to capitalise in unbelievable circumstances.
Jamie Murphy collected a loose kick and broke the line in style before releasing wing wizard Glen Lewis to score under the posts. Williams levelled the score line with just over nine minutes to go.
As you would expect, Bridgend chased the win. The scrum was now dominant and victory seemed inevitable. The Ravens earned a penalty from distance which saw Williams strike the post, Vaughan followed up and offloaded to Lewis who went over for his second try. Williams landed the conversion from the touchline to put Bridgend in the lead.
In a tense final few moments, Bridgend were forced to defend for the victory and with a superb turnover, Glen Holloway put the ball dead to seal it for the Ravens.
Newport 27-34 Bridgend (4-4T).
Bridgend Scorers: Tries: Hicks, Evans, Lewis (2). Conversions: Williams (4). Penalties: Williams (2).