Bridgend Ravens lost out to a late fight back from Ebbw Vale, as the visitors scored two push over tries with less than five minutes of regulation time remaining.
The Steelmen dominated early on, but the excellent Ravens defensive effort saw them stand strong, managing to hold the opposition out.
The visitors pressure told as Josh Jacas went over for the opening score of the game. A couple of minutes later Iain Smerdon landed a penalty to give Ebbw Vale an eight point lead.
The Ravens got on the scoreboard following an inventive Dixon chip over the defensive line. A bit of fortune saw an Ebbw Vale defender slip and Thomas O’Flaherty capitalised. The Flyer gathered the loose ball and had more than enough pace and skill to easily round the two covering defenders and dot down. Dixon converted to close the gap to one point.
Bridgend were now playing with much more confidence, running with ball in hand. They were getting an edge in the scrum and won a kickable penalty. James Dixon lined up the shot at goal as 40 minutes approached. The fly half landed the penalty to give the Ravens a two point half time lead.
HT Bridgend 10-8 Ebbw Vale
Bridgend started the second half on the front foot. An early drop goal effort from Dixon went just wide as the hosts looked to add to their lead.
It was Ebbw Vale that got the next score. The visitors’ forwards were beginning to gain some dominance. A powerful maul saw Ronny Kynes get the score. Smerdon was able to add the conversion.
A yellow card to Ebbw Vale winger Tom James for tackling O’Flaherty in the air gave the Ravens the opportunity to ply some pressure. The hosts were on the front foot once again. The ready-made overlap, due to the yellow card, was exploited and O’Flaherty went over in the corner for his second of the match. Dixon landed a great touchline conversion to edge the Ravens in front once again.
Further indiscipline from Ebbw Vale, mostly at scrum time, gave Bridgend some good field position. Dixon missed a shot at goal before he was handed another chance following further illegal scrimmaging. The visitors were down to fourteen men for the second time in the second half as Rob Sevenoaks was shown the yellow card. Dixon slotted the penalty as Bridgend looked to close out the game.
The powerful maul of the Ebbw Vale forwards would prove to be the winning aspect of the match. Two late maul drives, after Bridgend indiscipline gave them the opportunities deep in Ravens territory, secured the visitors a bonus point victory.
Bridgend Scorers: Tries: Tom O'Flaherty (2). Conversions: James Dixon (2), Penalties: James Dixon (2).