Bridgend Ravens were dumped out of the National Cup at the quarter final stage as Championship leaders Pontypool triumphed in extra time.
The hosts, backed by fantastic support, were in control of the tie, but a late fightback from the 14 man Ravens’ side sent the match to extra time. Pontypool went on to secure a deserved victory in extra time, downing the Ravens by 21 points to 11.
A cagey opening 20 minutes saw both teams getting to grips with one another, this, the first meeting between the sides since the 2011/12 season.
Jamie Murphy and Matthew Jones traded penalties early in the half, a scoreline that would see us through to halftime.
It was the 27th minute mark that brought us the biggest talking point of the half. A brawl erupted between the sides and following consultation with his assistants, the referee issued Danny Hodge and Jamie Murphy with yellow cards. Ravens prop Cai Lewis was shown a red for his part in the brawl, leaving Bridgend a man light for the remainder of the tie.
HT Pontypool RFC 3-3 Bridgend Ravens
Pontypool struck early in the second half as openside Rob Nash got the ball down following a powerful maul drive.
Bridgend's best attacking spell of the match came around the hour mark, the Ravens spent lots of time deep in the Pooler 22. Multiple penalties going their way, Bridgend continued to hunt for a try that would level the score. Despite the huge effort from the Ravens, Pontypool's defence held firm and managed to clear the danger.
Breaking away following Bridgend's sustained pressure, flyhalf Jones landed a drop goal that appeared to have wrapped the victory up for the hosts. An eight point lead with under 10 minutes remaining looked to be out of reach for the Ravens who seemingly couldn't get themselves over the try line.
A standout in Blue and White all afternoon, Caine Woolerton got Bridgend attacking following a great break over halfway. Quick recycling saw Aaron Grabham in space and the flyer dived over out wide for the Ravens opening try.
A final 8 minutes of urgency showed just how well the Ravens can play, despite at this point in the match being ravaged by injuries with a couple of players playing out of position, and having played the last 50 minutes a man light. Jamie Murphy levelled the match with 80 minutes nearly up and the Ravens had managed to take the game to extra time which looked unlikely just minutes before.
FT Pontypool RFC 11-11 Bridgend Ravens
A poor start to the extra twenty minutes saw Bridgend go behind thanks to a penalty from Kieran Meek.
Bridgend replacement Garyn Daniel was forced to leave the field through injury, leaving Bridgend battling with 13 men. With a lot more space to play in, Pontypool wrapped up a deserved victory. Showing up well in extra time it was Kieran Meek who crashed over, the centre converted his own score handing the hosts a 10 point lead as we headed into the final 10 extra time minutes.
HT (ET) Pontypool RFC 21-11 Bridgend Ravens
Bridgend battled hard during the second half of extra time, but dropped passes, poor handling and brilliant last ditch defence from the hosts made sure the Ravens couldn't respond, securing an impressive hard earned victory for Pontypool. The hosts did lose Michael Herbert with time almost up, the replacement shown a late red card, but it didn't affect the outcome.
FT Pontypool RFC 21-11 Bridgend Ravens