Bridgend Ravens put in a spirited display at the Talbot Athletic Ground, but came out second best against last season’s runners up Aberavon.
Giving a debut to the new Canterbury jersey, it was Bridgend who applied all of the early pressure. Joseph Scrivens hit the post with a long range penalty before the pack were rewarded with a forceful score from Ashton Evans.
The Wizards were stunned into a response. Scrum half Jacob Flynn hacked through a well judged kick to test the Bridgend back three and centre Nathan Edwards was harshly adjudged to have said to have blocked his course to the ball and was sent to the sin bin.
Aberavon’s prominent weapon is their strong driving maul and hooker Luke Davies was the beneficiary. The ever efficient James Garland put the home side in the lead.
Minutes later, Aberavon made the Ravens pay further as Liam Popham pounced out wide after a period of pressure from the hosts. Garland put the conversion wide.
Straight from the restart, Aberavon were penalised for holding on and Scrivens added an impressive penalty to reduce the deficit.
Just a few minutes later, Scrivens was hugely unlucky with another penalty attempt off the uprights, but Aberavon got the game changing score when youngster Shaun Pearce burst through the heart of the Bridgend defence to touch down under the posts. Aberavon’s captain converted to give the Wizards breathing space on the scoreboard.
Half Time: Aberavon 19-8 Bridgend
Aberavon were in no mood to slow down the scoring, but to their credit, Bridgend held firm until Shaun Pearce crossed for his second try of the afternoon. Garland was again successful with the boot.
Amongst a plethora of changes, Lee Purnell blotted an otherwise unmarked copybook for the day by picking up a yellow card. Bridgend took full advantage with Iestyn Merriman scoring within thirty seconds of coming off the replacements bench. Scrivens popped over the conversion from the touchline to draw the visitors closer.
Bridgend could sense a route back into the game and Nathan Edwards made an impressive break to within metres of the Aberavon line after Jamie Murphy has spotted a gap in the home side’s midfield. Scrum half Connor Tantum dived for the lined but lost the ball forward in what was to turn out to be a key moment in the match. Aberavon’s Jacob Flynn took the cheeky option of breaking away down Bridgend’s blind side to relieve the pressure and keep Aberavon out of danger.
The game was all but over when referee Gareth John awarded Aberavon a penalty try just minutes later. Under the new laws, the conversion is awarded automatically.
The icing on the cake was a late breakaway interception score from Aberavon’s Stef Williams, which he converted, to give the score line a slightly more flattering look than Bridgend deserved. Aberavon were fully deserving winners, but the Ravens will look to kick start their season when Llandovery visit the Morganstone Brewery Field on Saturday afternoon (2:30pm).
Bridgend Ravens Supporters’ Man of the Match – Kieran Martin.