Bridgend Ravens picked up two bonus points in a narrow loss to fellow league strugglers Neath at the Bridgend Ford Brewery Field.
It was a disappointing start for the home side who found themselves 0-15 down within the first half an hour. However, Bridgend staged an excellent comeback to lead – but they could not maintain it, slipping to defeat in the final quarter.
The Ravens had an early chance to score as Chris Williams kicked through for Tom O'Flaherty to chase. The winger touched down but was adjudged to have taken the ball dead.
It was Neath that were to get the first try of the match. Livewire scrum half Rhodri Cole sniped through a gap in the Ravens defence to score under the posts. Joel Matavesi added the conversion.
Matavesi added a penalty shortly after as Neath raced to a 10 point lead with just over 10 minutes on the clock. James Dixon was shown a yellow card after the penalty was awarded.
The Ravens managed to hold out for the duration of the yellow card, even though the visitors dominated the period. Neath eventually got a second try at the half hour mark. Ryan Evans went over out wide but the tough conversion was missed pushing the visitors out to a 15 point lead.
Bridgend worked their way into the match as the first half was coming to an end. Neath, struggling with the Ravens resurgence, had an player sent to the bin and Bridgend took their opportunity to strike. A maul drive saw the ball eventually held up over the line, the hosts winning a scrum. Bridgend, with a man advantage in the scrum, won a penalty from their powerful drive which was tapped quickly. Replacement Matthew Phillips barged over for the Ravens first try of the match. The conversion was missed to leave the score 5-15 at the break.
HT Bridgend Ravens 5-15 Neath
The hosts had the better of the opening exchanges of the second half, but were unable to convert their chances. A Neath mistake, kicking out on the full, handed the Ravens a great attacking opportunity. The hosts driving maul marched 20 metres upfield and captain Ashleigh James touched down. The conversion was missed to leave the Ravens five points behind.
Bridgend got another try shortly after. As the visitors attacked, sensing an overlap, they spread the ball wide. Mike Powell intercepted and showed he had enough pace to go all the way to score in the corner. Owen Howe added a fantastic touchline conversion to edge the Ravens ahead for the first time in the match.
The Ravens were pegged back as Neath went over for their third try of the match. With just over 10 minutes remaining Jordan Collier went over out wide. Matavesi added a great conversion that saw Neath retake a 5 point lead.
Things were to get worse for the Ravens as an overthrown deep lineout handed Lee Beach a try which went unconverted.
Bridgend gave themselves hope as a fourth try for the hosts arrived with little time remaining. A turnover on halfway was passed wide and Tom O'Flaherty raced away to score. Howe added the conversion to leave just three points between the sides. The Ravens attacked again from the kick off but the ball eventually went into touch to bring the game to an end.