Bridgend Ravens came away from Carmarthen with their twelfth losing bonus point of the season after drab affair at The Park.
In an encounter littered with errors, a last minute penalty from James Dixon snatched Bridgend a point, which they richly deserved, after a bruising clash in West Wales. Not many would have backed the Ravens to get anything from this game, especially after Carmarthen cruised to a comfortable 20-45 win on the opening day at the Bridgend Ford Brewery Field. However, the result shows a marked improvement, with Bridgend disappointed to have not come away with the win.
The early exchanges saw James Dixon hit the framework twice with two penalty attempts, with his opposite number, Craig Evans putting one wide. It took until the 34th minute for the game to come to life, with Evans putting over the first score for Quins.
The old saying that ‘defences are on top’ was never truer than in the first half, with both sides putting in ferocious defensive efforts. It was not until the stroke of half time that a line was broken. Off some sloppy Quins play, Bridgend were able to counter attack through Graham Knoop. Knoop offloaded to Scott Hicks, who spread the ball wide to Ryan Owen who was bundled into touch just short of the line.
HT: Quins 3-0 Bridgend
The second half was an improvement in standard from both sides. Evans extended Carmarthen’s lead ten minutes into the period after an infringement at the scrum from the Ravens.
It did not take Bridgend long to hit back, just six minutes later, some patient build up from Bridgend saw them build phases and allow the impressive Jamie Murphy to race over the line unopposed. The score was converted by Dixon to give the Ravens the lead for the first time.
From then on, it was Carmarthen Quins who had to take the game to their visitors. Some stellar defence, coupled with some dreadful handling errors saw the Ravens hold firm until the seventieth minute. The Quins clearly had the upper hand at scrum time by this point, and referee Andrew Davies awarded them a penalty try, converted by Evans.
As time ticked away, Evans popped over a second penalty to not only secure a win, but wipe out a vital bonus point for the Ravens. Bridgend showed heart and determination to battle back from this, and after Davies awarded them a penalty out wide, Dixon showed nerves of steel to land the penalty (despite the wind!) and earn Bridgend a vital losing bonus.
In other results at the bottom of the table, Neath were blown away by an impressive Cross Keys outfit (19-32) and Swansea were pipped at the post by Bedwas (20-25). Impressively, Aberavon beat Pontypridd at the Talbot Athletic Ground (29-27) to move to within a point of us in the league standings. This weekend’s results mean that Newport are now safe from relegation, along with all sides above them.