Bridgend Ravens put in their finest performance of the season to register a league double over Llandovery at Church Bank on Saturday.
Trailing 10pts to 7 at the interval, Bridgend's second half performance saw them cross for two well worked scores and prevent the free scoring Drovers from scoring any points of their own. Even more impressive was that the victory was Bridgend's first at Church Bank since 2008, and just Llandovery's second home defeat since April 2017.
The Drovers were on top for the opening quarter, but a herculean Ravens defensive effort that continued for the full 80 minutes kept the hosts at bay. Jack Maynard opened the scoring with a penalty on 20 minutes.
From the resulting kick off, a loose clearance from Llandovery allowed the impressive Ashley Evans to counter. The flyer broke into the Drovers half before finding Fullback Tyler Williams, making good ground into the 22, the ball found its way to Supporters Man of The Match Owen Thomas, and the hooker drove over out wide. Ryan Evans landed a sublime touchline conversion to give the Ravens a four point lead.
Shortly before halftime, Bridgend immense defence were battling deep in their own 22. Llandovery went to their maul drive looking for their opening try, but Bridgend seemed to match them. The referee awarded Bridgend the scrum following Llandovery's failure to recycle the ball after the maul went to ground, however the assistant referee consulted with the man in the middle to award a penalty try. Jordan Collier was also shown a yellow card.
Bridgend successfully saw out the half a man down without conceding further, even turning over a Llandovery scrum whilst down a man in the pack to bring the half to an end
HT Llandovery RFC 10-7 Bridgend Ravens
A phenomenal second half performance saw Bridgend go on to control almost every aspect of the match, despite starting the half without sin binned Collier.
The Ravens should have scored more during a remarkable second half, the opening ten minutes saw the game played almost exclusively in the Llandovery half, with the Ravens building well into the Drovers 22 on a couple of occasions. Llandovery defended well turning the ball over as Bridgend got close to their second score.
The visitors kept their attacks coming, and the score they deserved arrived ten minutes into the half. Strong carries from the forwards got Bridgend back to within a couple of metres before the backs took over. A looping pass to Geraint Roberts left the winger with a lot to do but Roberts managed to step his way passed a couple of defenders for the try. Ryan Evans added the conversion to push Bridgend into a four point lead.
As the match reached the hour mark Bridgend should have added a third try, more measured build up play saw the Ravens camped five metres from the line. Replacement prop Garyn Daniel reached for the line but was deemed to have lost possession, seeing Llandovery momentarily relieve some pressure.
Bridgend lost Ryan Evans to the bin with 63 minutes played. Evans nearly claimed an intercept in the Llandovery 22 which would have seen the Fly Half stroll in for a try, despite the referee awarding a scrum, the assistant again overruled and Evans was sent to the sidelines for ten minutes for deliberately knocking the ball on.
Llandovery couldn't get to grips with an energised Bridgend side, and rarely threatened despite playing against 14 men for 15 minutes of the second half. It was Bridgend that would add to their score through Captain Nathan Edwards. The powerful centre led by example for 80 minutes and was rewarded with a deserved try, crashing over following more good wing play from Ashley Evans, getting Bridgend back into the Drovers 22. Edwards beat three would be tacklers to ground the ball, handing Bridgend a nine point lead as the match headed into injury time.
A late rally from Llandovery eventually saw them awarded a penalty, with time up and no chance of a win Maynard lined up the penalty that would gain the hosts a bonus point, however the penalty was sent wide. A deserved and vital Ravens victory saw the sizeable traveling support erupt into cheers at the final whistle. Bridgend climb to twelfth in the Principality Premiership table with games in hand on those around them.