09 Sep Bridgend 26-27 Aberavon
It was heartbreak for Bridgend as an emotionally charged encounter at the Morganstone Brewery Field came down to the last kick of the game, Aberavon’s Aled Thomas securing his side’s win with and injury time penalty.
Bridgend paid tribute to two of their finest clubmen before the game got underway. A moment of silence, which broke out into applause, was held for Chairman Derrick King and long time club servant Mike Sheppard prior to kick off.
Playing with passion, Bridgend led by 10 at half time. Owen Howe got the scoreboard rolling with a penalty just two minutes in.
Ten minutes later the Ravens countered for a scintillating try. Andy Evans, on his league debut, hacked down field and gathered close to the line. Quick recycling and a looping Jamie Murphy pass saw Michael Powell in space out wide. The Wing stepped beyond the cover defence for the try. Howe converted.
Howe added three more from the tee before Aberavon struck for their first try of the match. Soft tackling allowed Aled Thomas to ghost through after a moment of brilliance from Chris Banfield. The fly half converted his own score to close the gap between the sides to 6 at the half hour mark.
Bridgend then lost Jordan Collier to the bin and Thomas added three more from the resulting penalty.
It was Bridgend, however, who ended the half the stronger despite being down a man and added a penalty try when Chris Williams was tackled off the ball as the scrum half looked to race over to dot down. Aberavon Captain Joe Tomalin-Reeves was shown yellow for his challenge, this would be the last we would see of the visitors Captain for the remainder of the match, the coaches seeing fit to remove him from play following an altercation as he left the field which left Bridgend’s players incensed. The half ended with Bridgend, backed by a significant home support, roundly cheered from the field of play and seemingly in control of the match.
HT Bridgend Ravens 20-10 Aberavon RFC
The Wizards quickly struck back with a try from Sam Williams in the opening five second half minutes.
Owen Howe added three more from the tee before Aberavon were awarded a penalty try of their own. The seven pointer gave the visitors the lead for the first time.
As the clock headed towards 80, Owen Howe landed a penalty off the post to edge Bridgend ahead once again. Bridgend found themselves in a slight ascendancy for the first time in the second half with time nearly up and Howe struck another late long range penalty though this time the fullbacks effort fell just wide. The already gripping contest fell to a final wave of attack from the visitors. Managing to break into the Ravens 22 Aled Thomas kept a cool head to land a match winning penalty sinking the Ravens at the death.
Despite the last gasp defeat, Bridgend’s new coaching team will be encouraged by much of what they saw in a classic derby encounter with the Wizards. There’s no league game for six weeks now, but Bridgend are in action next weekend when they travel to Beddau in the Specsavers Cup first round.