Bridgend Ravens escaped the relegation zone with a bonus point win over Neath at the Morganstone Brewery Field.
On a difficult afternoon against a troubled Neath side, Bridgend put in a professional performance to cross for eleven tries, with Man of the Match Cai Evans coming away with an impressive personal haul of 33pts.
To their credit, The Welsh All Blacks, made up largely of permit players, continued to play until the end despite the game and scoreline going against them. Everyone at Bridgend Ravens wishes Neath well in the efforts to recover from their current off field struggles.
Back to on field matters, and it took Matt Silva's side just 45 seconds to cross for their first try. Cai Evans was the first to score, landing an impressive conversion to get the afternoon underway in style. Evans was at it again just seven minutes later; again converting his own try.
Supporters Man Of The Match Cai Evans bagged a second try before the ten minute mark, this time slicing through a stretched Neath defence from close range. Evans converted before the fullback took his and the Ravens’ tally to 17 with a penalty.
Bridgend's phase play continued to make good ground, the Ravens’ ability to create quick ball caused lots of problems for the disjointed Neath defence. Morgan Jones carried well to get within a couple of metres of the try line, Jack Pope drove over a few phases later to score Bridgend's third try. Cai Evans added another conversion.
Less than five minutes later, Captain Nathan Edwards barged over for a bonus point try, a good turn of pace following the dummy saw the gap open up for the Centre. Evans again converted.
Ben Jones got his name on the score sheet at the half hour mark. Jamie Murphy breaking into the Neath 22 got the Ravens on the front door and Jones finished in the corner.
As halftime approached, both sides started throwing the ball around with little caution. Neath made some good metres but couldn't keep possession for long. Adam O'Driscoll was able to break into the Neath 22 and former Welsh All Black Jordan Collier crashed over for a first try in blue and white, Bridgend's sixth of the match. Evans maintained a perfect record from the tee adding his 25th point of the match.
HT Bridgend Ravens 45-0 Neath RFC
Any hopes of a Neath fightback in the second half were quickly quashed as Aaron Grabham dived over just two minutes into the second half. Adam O'Driscoll again raced into the visitors 22, Bridgend then exploited the overlap for the try. Cai Evans added a magnificent touchline conversion.
Strong carries from Nathan Edwards, Ben Jones and Morgan Jones helped build Bridgend towards another score. The longest period of the match without a try passed as both sides made lots of substitutions, but Neath just couldn't string enough phases together to break Bridgend down. Aaron Grabham added a second try as the clock neared the hour mark, latching onto a Nathan Edwards kick through.
A Bridgend mistake from the kickoff handed Neath their best attacking set piece of the match. Simple rugby from the visitors saw James Roberts round the final defender for what would be Neath's only try of the contest, though the score was met with a loud cheer from the spirited visiting support.
The Ravens went on to add a further three tries in the final ten minutes as the replacements made an impact. Iestyn Merriman touched down off the back of a powerful maul before Connor Tantum's late brace took the Ravens points tally beyond 70.
Ryan Evans countered a loose clearance with a dinked chip, the replacement flyhalf gathered and found Tantum who raced over for his first. With time up, Jordan Collier broke on an inside ball making 40 metres and again Connor Tantum was in support, the scrum half showed great pace with two determined Neath defenders chasing hard, but Tantum dived over for the 11th try of the match.
Bridgend claimed maximum points against the inexperienced Neath side, dragging themselves up to 11th position in the table. Cai Evans, voted by the Bridgend Ravens Supporters as the Man Of The Match, secured a personal tally of 33 points, a single game record for a Ravens player.