Bridgend Ravens booked their place in the Swalec Cup semi-finals with a hard fought victory over Merthyr at the Bridgend Ford Brewery Field.
The visitors were the only side left in the competition playing outside of the Principality Premiership, but they showed early on that they were no pushovers. A high kick and chase saw Merthyr regain possession, and with the Ravens winger out of position, a kick into the space saw visiting winger Trowbridge race over out wide for an unconverted score.
The Ravens didn't take long to get themselves on the scoreboard. Their power up front, evident all day long, led to Dixon being given an early shot at goal. The fly half landed the penalty to reduce the deficit to two points.
The hosts' first try was to come directly from the kick off. A box kick clearance was fumbled by Merthyr and Owen Howe pounced. The wing chipped ahead and dived on the ball to give the Ravens the lead for the first time in the match. Dixon missed the resulting conversion.
Merthyr went on to grab their second try of the match with just over 20 minutes on the clock. Owain Morgan went over in the corner. Parry added a fine conversion from out wide.
With the end of the first half in sight, the Ravens were hunting for a score to retake the lead. The hosts went close but knocked on into touch. Merthyr opted for the lineout which the Ravens forwards managed to steal and set up one final attack. A sweeping move led to an overlap, a neat floating pass from Dixon landed in the arms of Flyer Powell who slid over out wide. Dixon missed the conversion as half time arrived.
HT Bridgend Ravens 13-12 Merthyr
A mixture of poor handling and lots of kicking saw a scoreless third quarter, although Ashley James went close as a forward drive saw the Ravens Captain attempt to snipe down the blindside. James was adjudged to have been tackled over the dead ball line out wide to bring an end to the attack.
Livewire scrum half Chris Williams broke away to set up another chance for the Ravens, however more poor handling saw the attack fade out.
An interception in midfield from Adam Williams was to lead to the Ravens only try of the second half. The powerful centre passed wide to Mike Powell and the wing raced toward the line. Some excellent scrambling Merthyr defence saw the ball knocked on just short of the line.
The Ravens pack had the power to cause a problem for the Merthyr No 8 at the resulting scrum, he picked up from the back of the scrum and was bundled over his own line, handing the Ravens a five metre scrum. The resulting scrum was again marched forward by the Ravens pack, this time resulting in a penalty try. Howe added the extras to afford the Ravens some breathing room with 10 minutes remaining.
The Ravens faithful were made to sweat late on as visiting wing Trowbridge grabbed his second score of the match with just a couple of minutes remaining, leaving just three points between the sides. Bridgend managed to hold out and secure the win to book their place among the last four in the cup.
Tries: O Howe, M Powell, Penalty Try
Con: O Howe
Pen: J Dixon
Tries: M Trowbridge (2), O Morgan
Con: D Parry