14 Oct Bridgend 17-12 Merthyr
Bridgend Ravens’ relentless work earned a first win of the Indigo Welsh Premiership season, downing Champions Merthyr by 17 points to 12 at the Morganstone Brewery Field.
It was the much clichéd tale of two halves as the Ravens raced into a 17 point lead, before Merthyr’s second half fightback narrowed the gap to just 5, leaving another nervy final 5 minutes for the brilliant home support to endure.
Bridgend opened the scoring, capitalising on some poor Merthyr handling. Nathan Edwards hacked down field, the ensuing foot race was won by Tyler Williams as the wing raced passed the chasing defenders adding a well controlled kick of his own before grounding over the line. Owen Howe struck the extras for a seven point lead just over ten minutes in.
Bridgend forced errors from the visitors throughout the first half. Merthyr struggled under the high ball, constantly handing the Ravens good field position. Owen Howe added three more from the tee as Bridgend attacked deep in the Merthyr 22.
Owen Jordan and Cai Lewis anchored a strong Bridgend scrum, the pack winning vital penalties throughout the half.
Bridgend bagged another try, again the high ball caused problems for the Merthyr defenders, handing the Ravens a scrum just outside the Merthyr 22. Strong carrying into the 22 saw Ben Mayers-Davies afforded too much space and the flanker broke through. A neat step past the last defender saw the Ravens second try arrive. Howe landed the conversion.
Late in the first half was perhaps the most important period of the match as the Ravens defence stepped up, typifying the Ravens effort all afternoon. Merthyr hammered at the Bridgend line phase after phase. Bridgend stood firm and withheld the onslaught to keep the visitors scoreless at the break.
HT Bridgend Ravens 17-0 Merthyr RFC
A tense start to the second half saw a scoreless opening 20 minutes, Bridgend forced Merthyr to play from deep. Making his competitive debut for Bridgend, Jacob Chilcott’s precise kicking continually pinned the visitors deep in their own half.
Merthyr’s efforts eventually told with Matthew Jarvis afforded too much space out wide. Another period of intense Merthyr pressure was well absorbed by Bridgend, the hosts determination in defence was commendable, holding out sustained attacks time and time again.
Bridgend went close just after the 70 minute mark as an overthrown Merthyr lineout was stolen by Gareth Harvey. Harvey was stopped just short, next Dafi Davies dived over and looked to have got the ball down but was adjudged to have been held up. Merthyr eventually cleared to halt the first meaningful Ravens attack of the second half.
As the clock neared 80, Merthyr struck for a second try, Ashley Norton touching down. Replacement Rhys Jones, making a big impact from the bench, added the conversion setting up an incredibly tense final 2 minutes with just 5 points separating the sides.
With the clock in the red, a succession of scrums, where Bridgend had an edge for the majority of the match, saw a Bridgend penalty and the home side happily cleared the ball deep into the terrace to bring the final whistle, claiming a famous win with it.