Bridgend Ravens were left heartbroken after two late Aberavon tries condemned them to defeat at the Talbot Athletic Ground.
Bridgend, on the back of three consecutive bonus point wins, raced into a 17pts to 0 lead thanks to two tries from Mike Powell and the ever-reliable boot of Owen Howe. Stef Andrews struck back for the Wizards before the break which swung the tide in favour of the home side. Further scores from Andrew Waite, Andrews again and try seven minutes into injury time from Luke Davies saw the Wizards earn a bonus point victory.
A tense opening to the tie saw almost thirty minutes pass before the opening score arrived. Confusion in the Aberavon defence handed Bridgend the ball deep in the hosts’ 22. Bridgend swept right to left where Mike Powell was able to score. Owen Howe converted.
Former Wizard Powell struck again just minutes later, the flyer intercepted on halfway and had more than enough pace to beat the covering defenders for his second try. Howe again converted for a 14 point lead.
Owen Howe landed a penalty with five minutes of the half remaining to stretch the Ravens out to a 17 points to nil lead, Aberavon struck back to end the half and build their confidence going into the second.
A quick tap penalty allowed Stef Andrews to squeeze over for what seemed like an impossible score. The try was well converted by James Garland from the touchline to reel the Ravens in, seeing Bridgend head in at the break with a 10 point lead.
HT Aberavon RFC 7-17 Bridgend Ravens
The reliable Owen Howe stuck a penalty for his 10th point of the afternoon early in the second half, but the Wizards worked hard to get themselves back in the game.
Andrew Waite scored out wide against his former side early in the second half, Bridgend battled well but with a scrummage going backwards, Aberavon kept the pressure on and added to their tally with a little over an hour played.
Garland added a penalty to narrow the gap to five and Aberavon set about looking for a winning score. The Ravens were on the back foot for a large part for the second half and had to see the game out with 14 men as Cai Lewis was shown a yellow card.
Multiple powerful scrum efforts from the hosts eventually told, and with the man advantage Wing Stef Andrews was afforded too much space out wide to score. Garland missed a critical conversion, leaving the scores level as 80 minutes closed in.
Bridgend threw everything at the Wizards late on looking for a crucial score, but it was the hosts that completed the fighback, bagging a try deep into injury time to down the valliant Ravens, who now look to their final game of the season to secure Premiership survival. Bridgend now know that two points from their final league game at Sardis Road will see them feature in the Promotion/Relegation against Pontypool on Friday 17th May. Three points will see them leapfrog Llanelli and finish 11th in the final safe position in the division