Bridgend Ravens were cruelly dumped out of the Swalec Cup after a last minute defeat against Aberavon at the Talbot Athletic Ground.
The Ravens looked to have had the game won, scoring a penalty try in the last five minutes. But Aberavon remained persistent to steal the game off their visitors thanks to a Jamie Davies penalty.
Bridgend made an excellent start to the game. Hooker Greg George consistently found his man in the lineout, and the Ravens even stole two Wizards throws to dominate possession. A hack on by Tom Grabham saw a frantic chase, which the winger won. Unfortunately the bounce went wayward and Grabham could not gather the ball.
Minutes later, James Dixon sliced through the Aberavon defence. He seemed to have fumbled it, but Arthur Ellis caught the ball and played in Chris Williams who crossed for the opening try of the game. Ross Jones slotted the conversion.
The frantic start suited the visitors, and they peppered the Aberavon line looking for a second score. Sadly for Bridgend, Adam Hillier Rees had to leave the field due to a serious looking shoulder injury. From the resulting play, Arthur Ellis hacked through and James Dixon gathered to score Bridgend’s second try. Jones missed the resulting conversion.
Aberavon had to show some intent to get back into the game, and Jamie Davies put over two successive penalties to cut Bridgend’s lead. Now on top, the Wizards looked to go wide, but Tom Grabham continually denied his opposite number, Mike Powell in a battle which was to continue throughout the cup tie.
It was not to be too long until Aberavon took the lead. Their powerful forward pack drove towards the Ravens line, and despite some excellent defence, Neil White crashed over from close range. Davies made it a seven point score to give the Wizards the advantage at the interval.
HT: Aberavon 13-12 Bridgend (1-2T).
Now with the wind in their favour, Aberavon looked to keep ball in hand. After an excellent line break, Jon Phillips blew a three on one by passing the ball straight into touch. This was not to be the end of the onslaught, but Bridgend held firm on numerous occasions. As the hosts looked to score, Adam O’Driscoll won an excellent turn over, allowing Nathan Edwards to kick clear and relieve the pressure on Bridgend momentarily.
Aberavon looked to be out of ideas, but unluckily for Bridgend, they scored from a move which went wrong. As they looked to have messed up a scoring opportunity, the ball spun loose and Chris Morgans was able to collect and cement Aberavons dominance. On this occasion, Davies put the conversion wide.
Bridgend had to hit back soon, and Ross Jones put a long range penalty wide. From then on, the visitors looked to the set piece to get back into the game. Having blown a number of chances to score, Bridgend drove forward from a scrum and referee Neil Hennesey rewarded an excellent drive with a penalty try. Ross Jones was able to put Bridgend into the lead with four minutes of the tie remaining.
It seemed as if Bridgend were going to hold out quite comfortably, and they even looked more likely to score. However, as the clock hit 80, the referee gave Aberavon a penalty around 40 metres out. Jamie Davies kick went well short of the posts and it seemed as if that would be that.
It was not. Aberavons pack drove a scrum forward and earned one last shot at the game. The cool Davies did not miss this time, to put Aberavon into the next round and leave Bridgend broken hearted.
Bridgend Scorers: Tries: Chris Williams (8), James Dixon (17), Penalty Try (73). Conversions: Ross Jones (9 & 74).