Bridgend Ravens produced a courageous display to come within seconds of beating last season’s double winners Pontypridd at Sardis Road.
After a terrible opening day defeat to Carmarthen Quins, Ben Rose will be delighted with the response of his squad – even though they came up short.
The Head Coach was devastated after the full time whistle, but praised Bridgend’s titanic effort. ‘This hurts more than Saturday. We worked hard to put ourselves into an excellent position. We got ourselves into a good position physically before we let our backs do the talking.’
‘We started well – ten points up – but we should be more ambitious & more ruthless after that.’
Bridgend competed excellently throughout and went in at half time level, even though an excellent solo try from Tom Grabham and the boot of James Dixon kept them in the lead until first half injury time. Pontypridd’s points came from a try from Tom Hetherington, after a kick by Gareth Wyatt, and from the tee by ex-Raven Dai Flanagan.
HT: Pontypridd 13-13 Bridgend
The second half saw more of the same from Bridgend. There were periods of stern defence, followed by deft hands in attack. However, it was Pontypridd that struck first. Following a questionable penalty award, James Dixon was sent to the sin bin and Pontypridd were awarded a penalty try – allowing a conversion in front of the posts, which Flanagan dispatched.
A period of scruffy play saw Dai Flanagan sent to the bin, which allowed Bridgend to control the game. The home crowd were becoming restless at their team and at the decisions of the referee. This only got worse when Jac Hopkins bundled over from close range, converted by Lewis Williams. This set the game on a knife edge with just minutes to go.
Just when Bridgend thought it could not get better for them, it did. The ever dominant scrum produced another penalty, and Lewis Williams slotted home an excellent attempt from fifty metres. Bridgend now had something to hold onto, with just moments remaining.
But as is the usual case with Pontypridd, they pull through eventually. The Ravens defended excellently, holding up the ball on their line with time up. But deep into injury time, a break by Gavin Dacey through the heart of the defence provided the match winning moment. Flanagan confidently drop goaled the conversion to end the game, and break Bridgend hearts.
Tries: Heatherington, Penalty, Dacey
Cons: Flanagan (3)
Pens: Flanagan (2)
Tries: Grabham, Hopkins
Cons: Dixon (2), Williams