Bridgend Ravens finished their Principality Premiership with a double bonus point defeat in a high scoring end of season affair against Cross Keys at Pandy Park.
Bridgend raced into an early lead as Tom O'Flaherty pounced on a loose pass from Cross Keys to score. The flyer showed he had more than enough pace to finish after he gathered on halfway. Howe added the conversion for an early 7 point lead.
Andrew Waite put in an impressive display all afternoon running with ball in hand. The flanker showed his intent early as a bust from deep in his own 22 saw the back row make 65 metres up field before the attack was stifled by Keys' scrambling defenders.
The Ravens forwards had a clear edge at scrum time throughout the match and won a penalty that Owen Howe slotted, having missed a long range effort moments earlier.
The hosts clawed back three points straight away as they reclaimed the kick off, a penalty in front of the posts was successful from Ethan Davies.
Owen Howe landed three further penalties to push the Ravens into a healthy 19-3 lead. The scrum, still marching forward, handed Howe two of the penalty opportunities as well as resulting in a yellow card for Cross Keys' prop Cornock.
Cross Keys rallied whilst down to 14 men and managed to score three tries in a six minute blitz as the Ravens were caught napping. The tries from Scott Matthews, Lloyd Lewis and James Leadbitter were all converted by Ethan Davies to edge Cross Keys into the lead for the first time in the match as halftime neared. Just before the break, Keys' Second Row Hodge was shown a yellow for illegally halting a Ravens maul.
HT Cross Keys 24-19 Bridgend Ravens
Cross Keys' impressive Number 8 Jack Condy grabbed a try 5 minutes into the second half. A scrum five metres out for Cross Keys was driven backwards by the Ravens but Condy picked up from the base and barged over. Davies added the conversion.
The Ravens had Cai Lewis sent to the bin as Cross Keys heaped pressure on Bridgend's defence. The hosts eventually knocked on in the Ravens 22 and the scrum offered Bridgend a chance to clear. A poor pass to Liam Jones allowed the Keys defence to close down the outside half, stopping the chance to kick, the ball was offloaded to Adam Williams who raced up-field clearing the pressure with an excellent run. The centre kicked ahead as play went from one 22 to the other.
Cross Keys were back on the attack shortly after. A Liam Jones kick at halfway was charged down and Keys launched an attack. The hosts won a penalty which they kicked to touch and drove a maul deep in the Ravens 22. The maul was dragged down and Henri Williams was shown a yellow card - just as Bridgend were back to a full complement. The resulting penalty was again kicked to touch, this time the maul was finished with a try from Anthony Lott.
Andrew Waite made more great yards in the buildup to the Ravens next try before offloading out wide and an attempted interception was knocked on. At the resulting scrum a free kick was awarded to Bridgend and the visitors tapped quickly. A pass infield allowed Adam Williams to step his way around the final defender to go over under the posts and Owen Howe added the conversion to close the gap to 10.
Cross Keys hit back minutes later as a turnover in midfield sit up a breakaway down the left wing. An excellent try saving tackle from Chris Williams was in vain as the ball was recycled quickly and open-side Scott Matthews grabbed his second try of the afternoon as the final ten minutes approached.
The Ravens battled back with two quick fire tries to heap pressure on the hosts. First Ashleigh James touched down following a powerful driving maul with just five minutes remaining. Howe managed to convert from out wide.
As the 80th minute approached, a lineout in a similar position was again driven toward the line by the excellent Ravens forwards. Ashton Evans was the man to touch down this time to narrow the gap to 3 points. This time the conversion was missed as Bridgend looked to snatch victory late on.
The Ravens fielded the kickoff but conceded a penalty which Ethan Davies slotted as the match ended with the visitors picking up two bonus points to ensure the Ravens end the campaign off the foot of the table.
Tries: O'Flaherty, Williams, James, Evans
Cons: Howe (3)
Pens: Howe (4)