Bridgend Ravens picked up two vital bonus points from Pandy Park in an opening day defeat to Cross Keys.
Bridgend battled back valiantly from a 20-8 deficit to cross for four tries and claw themselves within seven points to take away an additional losing bonus point from the encounter.
An early try from Dragons back row Nic Cudd was awarded despite a apparent forward pass in the build up. Jason Tovey converted.
Will Holley showed his power with some fine carries all afternoon. The Wing powered into the Keys 22 before the Hosts knocked on. From the scrum Bridgend worked the blind side where Captain Nathan Edwards dotted down for the Ravens first try.
Jamie Murphy gave Bridgend the lead from the tee as the twenty minute mark neared. Shortly after, Will Holley lined up a monster 59 metre penalty which faded just wide, though there was no problem with the distance.
Cross Keys built a lead as halftime approached. A try from Todd James plus 8 further points from the boot of Tovey saw the hosts stretch out to a 20 points to 8 halftime lead.
HT Cross Keys RFC 20-8 Bridgend Ravens
Leon Andrews added a try to increase Keys’ lead early in the second half, but the Ravens fought back as the half went on.
Aaron Grabham saw a try disallowed for a forward pass but the speedster got his deserved score shortly after. Nathan Edwards’ powerful surge broke the Keys line, Tyler Williams carried and found the final pass inside to Grabham for the try.
Bridgend struck almost immediately following their score for a second of the half. Jamie Murphy’s line break got Bridgend into Keys’ territory and the Outside Half grubbered perfectly for Grabham to claim a second try in 3 minutes. Grabham gave the Keys defence a big head start but showed incredible pace to get to the ball for the score. Will Holley converted from the touchline.
Cross Keys added the killer blow with less than 10 minutes remaining. Nic Cudd involved heavily again, finding a sublime offload for Wes Cunliffe to race over.
Bridgend rallied late on, spurred on by the vociferous Ravens faithful. Again, hard running from Holley helped get the Ravens into the Keys 22. A quick tap penalty caught Keys’ defence napping and Chris John dived over out wide. The score, Bridgend’s fourth try of the afternoon, saw Bridgend get to within seven points of Cross Keys, securing two bonus points in an entertaining opening round fixture.
The Fountain Man of the Match: Jack Pope
Tries: Nathan Edwards, Aaron Grabham (2) & Chris John
Conversion: Will Holley
Penalty: Jamie Murphy