Bridgend Ravens fell to an opening day defeat against Ebbw Vale at the Bridgend Ford Brewery Field going down 20 points to 8.
The Ravens faced a stern test at the Bridgend Ford Brewery Field with the visit of Principality Premiership runners up Ebbw Vale, played under the new laws introduced by the WRU earlier this week. There was one late change for the Ravens, with youngster Morgan Jones, who has impressed in pre-season, coming in for Osprey, Aled Jenkins.
The Steelmen had the better of the opening exchanges, topped with the first try of the match. A strong Ebbw maul led to all three of the visitors tries. The Ravens held up the Visitors first maul effort over the line. The resulting scrum saw Ravens debutant Nicky Boyce receive a yellow card and Ebbw took advantage. Opting to scrum, the Ebbw Vale pack surged over the line resulting in an 8 point penalty try. No conversion needed following the new experimental rule change.
Bridgend heaped on the pressure, with Morgan Jones romping upfield. The Steelmen conceded multiple penalties within their 22 and prop Ross Jones was shown a yellow following repeat infringements.
The Ravens touched down for their first six point try just as the first half was coming to an end. A scrum in midfield saw Ifereimi Boladau storm upfield, as he did all afternoon. Neat interplay from David Evans set the excellent Marc Bennett away down the wing. The fullback dotted down under the posts and Ryan Evans converted to level the scores at half time.
HT Bridgend Ravens 8-8 Ebbw Vale.
Ebbw Vale continued to assert their dominance up front with further powerful driving maul plays. The Steelmen touched down for their second score 7 minutes into the second half. The Ravens halted the visitors maul but were unable to hold the visitors out as Damien Hudd barged over out wide. The conversion sailed wide.
A quick lineout landed the Ravens in trouble as Ebbw Vale read the play and won a penalty in the Bridgend half. A kick to the corner gave the Visitors another chance to set up their dangerous maul. Another strong drive led to a try for Rhys Clarke. The conversion was sent wide but the Ravens were unable to work their way back into the game.
With time running out, the Hosts looked to have got themselves a score to secure a point from the match. Geraint Watkins made a sharp break and Mike Powell looked to have touched down out wide. The flyer was adjudged to have been held up as full time arrived.
The Ravens were left disappointed despite a spirited display from a new look, youthful Bridgend squad. A tight match dominated by the set piece saw the Visitors claim a 20 points to 8 victory.
FT Bridgend Ravens 8-20 Ebbw Vale
Bridgend Scorers: Try: Marc Bennett. Conversion: Ryan Evans.