Bridgend Ravens bounced back from some poor recent performances to claim a vital victory over Ospreylian rivals Aberavon at the Morganstone Brewery Field on Saturday afternoon.
A tight contest, fitting of the much clichéd game of two halves, saw Bridgend edge the first half, with visiting Aberavon fighting back in the second.
The opening twenty minutes passed with no score. Bridgend, having the better of the opening exchanges, knew they needed to convert some of their pressure into points.
Cai Evans, wearing 15 this week, landed a penalty shortly after the twenty minute mark to give Bridgend a deserved lead.
Just two minutes later Bridgend struck for the opening try of the match, feeding off an Aberavon mistake in the backfield. A pinpoint box kick from scrum half Chris Williams was poorly dealt with by former Raven Ashton Evans, and Jamie Murphy hacked on, Aaron Grabham showed his speed to kick further ahead before gathering and touching down for the score. Cai Evans landed the conversation to hand the hosts a ten-nil lead.
Bridgend will have been slightly disappointed not to have been further ahead, their first half efforts deserving more points. It was Aberavon who added the next score as James Garland landed a penalty just before halftime to keep his side in the tie.
HT Bridgend Ravens 10-3 Aberavon RFC
The second half continued much the same as the first, a tight contest, but this time it was Aberavon who had the better of the half. The Wizards added a try with a little over 50 minutes played through scrum half Iwan Temblett. The successful conversion from the ever reliable Garland levelled the score.
Both sides saw a second half yellow card with Joe Tomalin-Reeves sent to the bin for an off ball altercation, before Jack Pope spent 10 minutes on the sidelines following repeated infringements from the hosts.
James Garland pushed Aberavon into the lead for the first time with a penalty, the visitors would have thought they could push on for the win with their stronger second half performance, but the Ravens fought incredibly hard to get back into the match, finishing the stronger of the two sides going on to secure a dramatic late win.
Cai Evans nailed a long range penalty, giving Bridgend the confidence to push in late in the match, and the Ravens did just that. A blistering counter attack got the hosts into the Aberavon 22 where Bridgend controlled the ball well and found Supporters Man of the Match Jamie Murphy who kept his cool to drop a goal under intense pressure. Bridgend then showed great poise to run the clock down and secure a much needed win thanks to a huge improvement in performance.
Securing a third successive win against Aberavon, Bridgend can now take confidence into a short run of home fixtures during the festive period, looking to further boost themselves in an extremely competitive Principality Premiership table.
The run of home games continues when Cross Keys visit the Morganstone Brewery Field on Saturday and Bridgend know they’ll need more of the same if they’re to retain their top flight status.