Bridgend Ravens secured their first win of the 15/16 Principality Premiership campaign with a 34 points to 20 victory at the Gnoll over fellow strugglers Neath.
The hosts built an early lead - a penalty from flyhalf Joel Matavesi was shortly followed by a try from Cameron Morris. An overlap, well executed by Neath saw the centre dive over the line. Matavesi added the conversion to push the Hosts out to a 10-nil lead after ten minutes.
Neath continued to look dangerous, spurning multiple chances as the scrambling Bridgend defence managed to hold out.
The impressive Adam O'Driscoll's clean break looked to have set Bridgend up for their first try of the match, only for poor handling to bring a halt to the attack. The Referee consulted Assistant and pulled play back for a penalty that the Ravens kicked to the corner. A powerful maul, driven from just inside the Neath 22 went all the way for Ashton Evans to get Bridgend back into the game with 30 minutes played. Joseph Scrivens landed the conversion to narrow the gap to two points.
Neath hit back immediately following some neat interplay between centres. Gareth McCarthy crashed over. Matavesi added the conversion to take the Hosts back out to a ten point lead.
A minute later Joseph Scrivens notched a penalty to close the Hosts lead to 8 points. Matavesi missed the chance to restore Neath's ten point cushion as his penalty struck the upright shortly after.
As halftime approached, Neath looked to add to the scoreline as an overlap lead to a break away out wide. David Evans managed to get back and make a fine try saving tackle to keep the scoreline close at halftime.
HT Neath RFC 18-10 Bridgend Ravens
The Ravens piled on the pressure in the opening exchanges of the second half, hunting for an early score. Adam O'Driscoll went close, only to be driven into touch. The resulting Neath lineout, thrown not straight, handed Bridgend a great attacking position. Another conversation between Referee and Assistant led to a Bridgend penalty within the Neath 22, Centre Gareth McCarthy was shown a yellow card as the Visitors went to the corner. Adam O'Driscoll again went close, this time quick recycling and the extra man afforded wing Michael Powell the space out wide to slide over. Scrivens was on target from wide to level the scores less than 10 minutes into the half.
Handling errors and superior defensive play halted any further scores until the 75th minute when Joel Matavesi notched his second penalty of the match to edge the Welsh All Blacks ahead with little time remaining for a Bridgend comeback.
The Ravens pressed late on for a winning score that arrived with 78 minutes played. Bridgend went from one wing to another where David Evans dashed over from 15 metres out. Scrivens again added the conversion to hand the Ravens a six point lead, the first time the Visitors had been ahead throughout the match.
Bridgend looked to pin Neath deep in their own half as they kicked for the corners. The Hosts spilled the ball in their own 22 and the Ravens managed to snatch a late bonus point try. A midfield pass to Marc Bennett saw the fullback show his strength as he dragged three defenders over the line with him. Scrivens added his fourth conversion as the Ravens stretched out a fourteen point lead late on.
An excellent second half performance, limiting Neath to only a Matavesi penalty, helped Bridgend to a much needed win that saw the Ravens add five league points to their tally. Second half tries from wings Powell and Dai Evans plus a late bonus point score from fullback Bennett enabled Bridgend to lift themselves from the foot of the table.
FT Neath RFC 20-34 Bridgend Ravens