The Ravens suffered a crushing defeat to a rampant Cardiff side that ran in eight tries at the BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park, with Bridgend scoring three of their own in reply.
It was a far from ideal start to the tenth Principality Premiership season for the Ravens, as the hosts ran riot to put the game out of sight before half time.
Bridgend had the chance to take the lead early on, Ross Jones lined up a long range shot at goal which fell short.
Tom Slater finished off a neat move, touching down after a good break and a two-on-one for Cardiff’s first try of the match after 13 minutes. Dean Gunter added the extras to give the hosts an early 7-0 lead.
Cardiff’s second try came after 22 minutes with wing George Watkins going over for his first of the match, Cardiff’s second. The conversion was missed by Gunter.
Bridgend were struggling to keep up with the pace of Cardiff’s attack, straight from the kick off a penalty conceded by the Ravens saw the home team tap quickly and a wide pass to Watkins saw him go over for his second in quick succession. A successful conversion brought the score to 19-0 after 25 minutes.
Just a minute later the Ravens were able to put their first points on the board. Luke Price slotted an excellent 38 metre penalty to bring the score to 19-3.
Cardiff’s bonus point try came after just 32 minutes. A defensive line out for the Ravens went astray allowing the home side to spread the ball wide and allow flanker Nick White to go over. Gunter added the conversion.
On the stroke of half time, the Ravens managed to get their first try of the game. A strong maul saw Bridgend edge towards the Cardiff line, and influential captain Ashleigh James was able to dive over in the corner. Price added the conversion to give the Ravens a chance in the second half.
Half Time Cardiff 26-10 Bridgend (4-1T)
The second half started with Bridgend pressing for more points, a missed penalty from Price resulted in a Cardiff 22 and from the kick the Ravens gathered and kicked high with a good chase. Bridgend were able to re-gain possession and a cynical high tackle gave Price another chance to claw back some points for the Ravens. This time Price landed the penalty to bring the score to 26-13 after 45 minutes.
Poor defending from Bridgend allowed Cardiff in for their fifth of the match. A lineout to Cardiff saw George Watkins glide though some gaps in the Ravens line and offload to Shaun Powell who raced over. Gunter converted to further widen the gap.
A great up and under from Price saw him re-gather and set up Bridgend’s best spell of sustained attack in the game. Tom Morgan powered through a couple of tackles and the ball was spread wide only for Cardiff’s Watkins to intercept and gallop 80 metres to score his hat trick. Gunter added the conversion for the hosts with 55 minutes on the clock.
Bridgend were still trying to play fast expansive rugby, evident when replacement scrum half Tito Tebaldi took a quick tap free kick. The Italian made vital ground and Ashleigh James was able to power over after 59 minutes to get his second of the match, Ross Jones, taking over the kicking duties, added the conversion.
A poor Bridgend clearance from the kick off piled the pressure back on the Ravens. Cardiff knocked on but won the scrum against the head to regain possession deep into Ravens territory. The hosts worked the ball well to score their 7th try of the game with 62 minutes on the clock.
A good kick off from the Ravens allowed them to win the ball, and an excellent run from Adam Williams set Bridgend up for their third try. Replacement prop Marc Thomas was able to touch down and Ross Jones slotted the conversion with 64 minutes played.
Bridgend were starting to play some flowing rugby, trying to score a fourth try for a bonus point. However more poor execution from the Ravens saw another interception deep in Cardiff territory and Cardiff centre Will Rees Hole is able to run in the score, Cardiff’s 8th of the match. The conversion was missed.
Unbelievably, with 5 minutes to play, Italian scrum half Tito Tebaldi looked certain to get the Ravens a point from the game when he raced down the wing and got over the try line. However Tebaldi tried to get in under the posts and in doing so ran back out of the try area, giving Cardiff the chance to keep the Ravens out. Tebaldi was brought down two metres out as Cardiff denied the visitors a try scoring bonus point.
Full Time Cardiff 52-27 Bridgend (8-3T)
Tries: Ashleigh James (2), Marc Thomas.
Cons: Luke Price, Ross Jones(2)
Pens: Luke Price (2).