Bridgend Ravens claimed a vital bonus point win against North Walians RGC in an open, entertaining affair at the sun soaked Morganstone Brewery Field on Saturday afternoon.
A stunning first half display saw the Ravens build a 16 point halftime lead, securing a try bonus point in just over half an hour. Playing with the passion and desire needed to stave off relegation, the Ravens now move within two points, with two games in hand, of twelfth place.
Billy McBryde landed the first points of the afternoon with a well struck penalty. The Ravens hit back with a sweeping counter attack as RGC cleared poorly. Mike Powell broke deep into the 22 and found Tom Morgan outside who crashed over, Owen Howe landed a sublime conversion from the touchline.
Bridgend took control of the match and at the 20 minute mark bagged a second try, this time through Ben Jones. Chris Williams tapped a quick penalty and Tom Morgan went close. Quick recycling saw Ben Jones stretch for the line.
Just five minutes later, the Ravens added a third. James Little found a gap from a Ravens lineout and galloped over, Howe converted.
The bonus point try arrived just after the half hour mark, more hard carrying deep in the RGC 22 from Captain Nathan Edwards set Bridgend up. Adam O'Driscoll, influential all afternoon, offloaded to back row partner Tom Morgan and Morgan touched down for his second score. Owen Howe again converted.
As the half came to a close, Bridgend will have been disappointed to have conceded a try all too easily. Robin Williams touched down with McBryde converting.
HT Bridgend Ravens 26-10 RGC 1404
The visitors struck almost immediately in the second half, trying to stir a fightback. Sam Rogers scoring with just two minutes of the half played.
A second half just as entertaining as the first was on the cards. Bridgend added a fifth try through Gheorghe Gajion. Debutant Josh Thomas broke over halfway finding halfback partner Chris Williams on his shoulder. Williams raced into the RGC 22 but the visitors scramble defence halted the Scrum Halves progress. Some strong phases from the forwards saw the Moldovan drove over for a first score in Blue and White. Howe added the extras.
As the hour mark arrived RGC hit their stride, closing the gap to just six points despite the Ravens dominance. Two tries in quick succession saw both Wings touch down for the visitors - and neither side were finished scoring just yet.
Bridgend increased their lead as we headed towards the final 10 minutes. Successive maul efforts from the hosts allowed Gareth Harvey to burst over the line on his fiftieth appearance for the club, Howe’s conversion gave the Ravens a 13 point lead.
The hosts piled on the pressure once more, Nathan Edwards broke into the RGC half and kicked ahead. A concerted effort on the kick chase saw Bridgend force a scrum five metres out. RGC indiscipline handed Howe a simple three points from the tee, seemingly wrapping up the victory for the Ravens. RGC had other ideas though, as a late rally left Raven hearts racing.
Indiscipline from the hosts handed RGC great field position and Billy McBryde stepped over for a score. Bridgend then tried to run down the clock with multiple phases, a turnover in the RGC half allowed the visitors to counter attack and Sam Jones added another try, McBryde failed with the conversion leaving a four point difference between the sides.
RGC were gunning for the late win, needing a try to steal the victory from under the Ravens noses the visitors launched one final attack. Breaking down the left wing, RGC looked to have the try line beckoning. Unbelievable pace from replacement Connor Tantum, plus his superbly executed game saving tackle helped the Ravens defence scramble back in time. Multiple phases from RGC saw the visitors edge towards the try line but a herculean effort late in the game saw the Ravens hold the visitors up over the line, seeing the Ravens faithful erupt into cheers at the whistle.
Bridgend will look to back up Saturday's win with games again Bargoed and Cross Keys next week, before a trip to Aberavon on the penultimate weekend of the season. There's all to play for as Matt Silva's charges look to keep Premiership rugby in the borough next season.