Bridgend Ravens claimed a vital four points in the basement battle against Neath at the Bridgend Ford Brewery Field on Friday evening.
The victory propels the Ravens back into ninth place, ahead of Aberavon. More importantly, Bridgend are now 18 points clear of the relegation place after Pontypridd beat Swansea at St Helens (22-38).
The Ravens had the better of the early exchanges, with one successful penalty from James Dixon, before he put one wide six minutes later. His opposite number Dale Ford also sliced one wide amongst the first quarter.
It got better for the Ravens after 22 minutes. Another impressive forwards attack resulted in Ashleigh James (again!) scoring in the corner to become the Ravens top try scorer this campaign. The conversion from Dixon was wide.
Dixon made amends for this ten minutes later with a penalty kick to put Bridgend two scores ahead. The Ravens seemed in control, but on the stroke of half time, prop Jon Thomas was yellow carded to hand some momentum to the All Blacks with the second half looming.
HT: Bridgend 11-0 Neath (1-0T).
It took Neath just three minutes to make the man advantage tell. Arron Pinches was able to break the Bridgend line to score for the All Blacks. Dale Ford made the conversion.
For a brief period, the game lulled until Dixon put over another penalty before dropping a goal to ease Bridgend nerves.
Minutes later, Dale Ford crossed for Neath’s second try to put the Ravens nerves on edge, but it was Dixon who would win it for the home side. His boot added six more points to put Bridgend out of sight.
Luckily for Neath, they were able to salvage a late losing bonus point through a penalty from Dale Ford. However, the evening belonged to Bridgend, with a much needed four points easing their relegation fears for another week.
Arguably Bridgend’s Man of the Match was Graham Knoop, who was delighted with the win.
‘It was fantastic to play 80mins in a Ravens jersey and come out with the win. It's great to hear how passionate the Bridgend supporters are from the side, who are often just as fired up as the Ravens players.
Weeks and months of training really showed on Friday, and I thought the pack's performance was immense, especially come set piece time. A lot of credit must go to the coaching staff who have continued to take a positive approach the team's recent performances and who continually back and support the team in all circumstances.’
This match report was written on software provided to Bridgend Ravens by our official IT supplier, Aspect.