The Ravens claimed a vital win under the floodlights at the Talbot Athletic Ground following an impressive all-round performance.
Both sides missed early shots at goal before Bridgend got the first points of the game. Andrew Waite made a good break from the back of a scrum won against the head, setting the Ravens on the front foot. The ball was spread to Thomas O’Flaherty, whose pace caused Aberavon problems all evening. The winger beat the Wizards fullback to touch down and Dixon added the extras to give Bridgend a seven point lead.
Bridgend were on the front foot, hunting for more points and kicked a penalty to touch inside the hosts 22. A powerful maul was nearly driven all the way only for Rowan Jenkins to pull it down illegally. The prop was sent to the bin and Bridgend went to touch again. This time Ravens captain Ashleigh James went over in the corner. Dixon added an excellent conversion from the touchline to put the Ravens fourteen points ahead after 28 minutes.
Aberavon worked themselves a good opportunity whilst down to fourteen men. Cai Lewis received a yellow card for slowing the ball down and Ceiron Thomas slotted the penalty from right in front to give Aberavon what would prove to be their only points of the game.
HT Aberavon 3-14 Bridgend (0-2t)
The second half started slowly, with both teams making handling errors as the wet and windy conditions took their toll.
Bridgend started to get some momentum as the fleet of foot O’Flaherty continued to impress on the wing. The Ravens won a penalty six metres out and showed their enterprise turning down the shot at goal and tapping quickly. The ball was eventually held up however, and Aberavon managed to clear.
The Wizards started to pile on the pressure as some Bridgend indiscipline gave the hosts good field position. A strong maul close to the Ravens line was collapsed and Ashleigh James was sent to the bin. Aberavon spent the next ten minutes of the match camped five metres from the Ravens try line. Bridgend’s defensive effort whilst down to fourteen men was immense, holding up big maul drives and halting any scrum momentum. The Ravens held out, managing to clear their lines.
Bridgend went on to score the only points of the second half with a minute left of regulation time. Scott Hicks, stealing the ball deep in the Wizards half, made good ground. The ball was spread wide, as Aberavon were close to intercepting but the big gap left by the man leaving the defensive line saw a big overlap and Adam Williams raced over to secure the win. Dixon added his third conversion to cap an excellent performance from the Ravens.
FT Aberavon 3-21 Bridgend (0-3T)
Tries: O'Flaherty (22), James (27), Williams (77)
Cons: Dixon (22, 27, 78)