Bridgend Ravens soared to the top of Pool 4 in the Foster's Challenge Cup with a bonus point win over Aberavon.
Bridgend Ravens came out on top in the second of back-to-back Fosters Challenge Cup fixtures against Ospreylian rivals Aberavon. The Bridgend Ford Brewery Field played host to a ten try thriller as both sides battled for the first spot in Pool 4.
It was the Visitors that landed the first blow with an opportunistic score. Aberavon pounced on a charged down kick and set speedster Mike Wilson away down the wing. The flyer had too much gas and was able to score in the corner for an early Aberavon try
Bridgend struck back shortly after with a try of their own. A home debut score for Matthew Edwards levelled the scores, both sides missed wide conversions.
Jamie Murphy, making his 100th Bridgend appearance, kept the scoreboard ticking over with two well struck penalties.
Aberavon regained the lead heading into the final 10 minutes of the half thanks to a powerful maul. The Avon maul was a constant threat all evening, and Sam Williams was able to take advantage of the drive to dot down. Stef Williams’ conversion edged the Visitors into the lead but there was plenty of time for Bridgend to add to the score.
Mike Powell got an opportunity to show his pace and footwork with a lightning break that helped the Ravens into the Avon 22, a big effort defensively from the visitors held the Ravens out, but Bridgend got the score their play deserved as Aberavon missed their kick to touch.
Bridgend worked well in attack, making ground in the Aberavon 22, a quick switch of play from Jamie Murphy led to a short-side overlap where Kyle Maiden was able to dive over for the score.
Murphy added two further scores from the tee to give the Ravens a 10 point half time lead.
HT Bridgend Ravens 22-12 Aberavon RFC
Aberavon raced out of the blocks in the second half, overcoming their 10 point halft ime deficit just 8 minutes into the half. It was the pack that got the Visitors back into the match following two powerful maul drives. Luke Joseph and David Griggs touched down for the Visitors, Stef Williams added one conversion for a slender two point lead.
Bridgend continued to play expansive, exciting rugby and their third try of the match was to arrive following some excellent handling skills. Matthew Edwards again bundled over in the corner as the lead again changed hands. Bridgend were not about to let their lead slip again and made sure of it with two further quick-fire scores.
Another strong driving maul, this time from Bridgend saw the eighth try of the match arrive. Garyn Daniels managed to drive over from close range, Murphy's conversion saw Bridgend take a 10 point lead into the final 10 minutes.
Joseph Gatt sealed a much needed Ravens victory following an electric break in midfield. The centre raced through the Avon defence before a 1-2 with centre partner Ryan Evans saw Gatt stroll over under the posts. Jamie Murphy's conversion brought up 40 points for the Ravens including a personal haul of 16 for the centurion.
Aberavon were not done yet and managed a fifth try of their own. Sam Williams added his second try to narrow the gap to 10 points late in the match. The Visitors upped their intensity in the final five minutes, looking to get something from the match but the impressive Bridgend defence late on held out to secure an important five point win. The win sees Bridgend climb to the summit of pool D in the Fosters Challenge Cup, setting up an important final two pool matches in the competition for Bridgend.