Bridgend Ravens claimed an important bonus point victory at the Bridgend Ford Brewery Field, downing Cross Keys by 29 points to 16 thanks to a dominant second half performance.
With the new league format, points early on in the season are all the more important before the split at the halfway stage. With both sides not collecting any in their opening fixtures, this match had added importance for both teams.
A scrappy start to the game showed the tension both sides felt. Joseph Scrivens and Ethan Davies traded early penalties before Keys got the first try of the match. A scrum move inside the Ravens 22 saw the Josh Skinner drive over. Davies converted for a seven point lead.
The visitors added to their lead with a second Davies penalty just before halftime but the Ravens had one last chance and made sure they took it. The lively Will Baird broke into the Keys 22, where the forwards took over. Ashton Evans managed to power over from close range to score Bridgend's first try of the season. Scrivens’ conversion narrowed the gap at the break to just 3 points.
HT Bridgend Ravens 10-13 Cross Keys RFC
Just three minutes into the second half Cross Keys furthered their advantage with a third Ethan Davies penalty.
A yellow card for Cross Keys try scorer Josh Skinner proved the turning point for the Ravens. Mike Powell went close out wide, shortly after the card was shown, following good runs from Adam and Zach O'Driscoll. The wing was bundled into touch 5 metres out but the hosts would get their second try and edge themselves back into the lead. Bridgend stole the lineout and earned a penalty close to the Keys line. Seeing the chance, Bridgend charged from the back of the scrum, good initial defence by the visitors saw them hold out for a couple of phases before Jamie Murphy dotted down. Scrivens landed the extra points for a 17-16 lead going into the final quarter.
Bridgend added their third try of the match, punishing a poor Cross Keys clearance kick. A wide move gave Marc Bennett space to run into where the fullback sold the dummy and raced over from 22 metres out.
Ryan Griffiths made sure of the result with just a couple of minutes remaining in the match. Another poor Keys kick was fielded by Chris Williams and the replacement scrum half launched the counter. An inside ball to Griffiths allowed the wing to out pace the covering defence to notch the Ravens bonus point try. Joseph Scrivens’ late yellow card was the only blemish in an otherwise outstanding second half performance.
A tireless effort from the Ravens lead to an important five point win, and will have given Bridgend the confidence they need as they head into two tough away fixtures on the bounce, starting at the BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park on Thursday night.
Following the match, the Bridgend Ravens Supporters voted for Jamie Murphy as the Man of the Match.