Report by Lauren Smith
A minute’s silence was held in memory of former Bridgend Ravens captain, Keith Bradshaw and supporter Jan Price. A silent Brewery Field paid their respects to the two prior to the kick off which proved to be a dominant game for the home side.
With Bridgend holding a nineteen-point lead with no return in the opening thirty, Cardiff struggled through the first half. Scoring a lone try in the first half did little to engage the few Cardiff supporters who had made the trip to see a supposed simple win for the Blue and Blacks.
With Cardiff lacking in confidence, the kicking strategy seemed to do little to make headway on the visitor’s five-point score. However defensively the Blue and Blacks began to engage with replacements Ford and White using their size to halt the Bridgend onslaught but it wasn’t long before the Raven’s crossed for the only score of the second half. Despite the one-man advantage in the closing minutes, Martyn Fowler’s men had left it too late to make any impression at the Brewery Field.
Bridgend kicked off and were keen to put Cardiff on the back foot, Pascoe looked to push through the gain line as the first big break of the evening, however with a forward pass from colleague Slater, his efforts were futile and referee Justin Williams called the play back.
With Bridgend pushing towards the Cardiff twenty-two a missed tackle by winger Phillips saw Bridgend’s party advance towards the try line, dominating territory in the opening exchanges.
Despite the best efforts of Cardiff’s Powell, Raven Evans out paced the winger down the right to cross in the corner, putting the first points of the night on the board for the home side. With a successful conversion by fly-half Dixon, Cardiff RFC looked as if they were yet to play an ounce of rugby in the opening ten minutes.
It was Bridgend to come back again with Ward-Jones bringing the ball deep into the twenty-two before being bundled to touch. The lineout was won by Bridgend who formed a maul gaining extra yards before the ball was passed out to centre Williams, a product of the Ospreys Academy, who broke the line and looked to touch down, the Cardiff defense rallied and the ball was fumbled with the referee calling a scrum for a knock on.
The scrum did not go the way of the visitors with Alex Jones the one to claim the spoils as the Bridgend Maul was driven across from an ambitious forward back. The conversion was missed but the Ravens positioned themselves for an easy first half walkover.
Cardiff struck back with the backs utilising space, in the hands of full back Loxton the ball was driven up the right, unfortunately under pressure the ball was lost and it was Bridgend 8, Evans, who scooped up and sprinted down the right, out pacing two Cardiff defenders before Loxton got a grip round his ankles halting the attempt.
Almost replaying the events that opened up Bridgend’s last try, Cardiff struggled to control the scrum. The scrum was recalled and this time it was Cardiff who scrambled for the ball. Maynard’s clearing kick did little to release the pressure on the visitors as it bounced back into play, the second attempt to clear the ball was worse, with a pass to centre and no receiver, Bridgend scooping up the spoils and hooker George crossed under the posts. The successful Dixon conversion brought the Ravens to a nineteen point advance with no return.
It was the Cardiff wingers who exchanged to score their first try of the evening with Phillip taking the ball up the right and handing off to Powell when under pressure. The winger leaped across the floored Bridgend defence to cross in the corner for the Blue and Blacks although Maynard’s conversion was unsuccessful.
Cardiff, conceding a penalty in the scrum, gave Bridgend the opportunity to advance their 19-5 lead but unfortunately for the home side the kick fell short. Not that the missed opportunity halted the home side ambition.
With Maynard’s restart falling into the hands of Raven Williams, the scrum half’s quick feet brought him around the Cardiff line and not even Loxton could halt the progression. A tap and chase saw the ball into touch metres from the try line but the ref called knock on resulting in a scrum on the five-metre line. With Cardiff conceding a penalty once more Bridgend opted to re set the scrum. Handbags between Evans and Powell demonstrated the tensions brewing between the two sides as fans made their allegiances known.
With the scrum reset Cardiff looked to stop Bridgend’s bonus point try when Maynard scooped the ball from the back of the Ravens maul seconds before the pack looked to cross, however the scrum was recalled once more.
Much to the annoyance of the home support the scrum was recalled four times without a penalty try awarded, however Cardiff tight head Elliot was yellow carded for grounding. With the fifth and final scrum successful, Cardiff finally picked the ball and cleared just before the half time whistle.
Bridgend Ravens 19 – 5 Cardiff RFC
The restart saw Maynard make the biggest kick of the game so far looking for the drop goal from 20 meters, the ball drifted wide but it was a positive step for the otherwise defeated Blue and Blacks.
The second half did not start much better for the Cardiff side; Bridgend stealing the line out after the feed went long. Advancing into the Cardiff half, Dixon pushed for territory before loose head Thomas chipped the ball through to Jones that allowed Loxton the opportunity to intercept, he grounded play.
Once again Bridgend found their way into the Cardiff red zone with a long-range kick by Dixon. Under pressure the visitors cleared but to the hands of the Raven’s back line who continued to ply the pressure on.
Fowler, on the receiving end of Jones’ kick carried the ball up field, finding space he made positive progression. Unfortunately that was the only encouraging movement of the phase as Ravens abruptly turned over and were once again in possession. The game of tennis that ensued saw Ford and White put in some big tackles, gaining ground for the Blue and Blacks but lacking confidence Cardiff’s fly-half once again kicked through and with lack of chasers Bridgend once again had the ball in hand.
With Cardiff offside, the Ravens opted to kick for goal but full back Jones’ effort fell short. However this did little to dampen the spirits of the Bridgend crowd who were aggressively behind their team every step on the way. Bridgend opened up the scoring of the second half with Lloyd Evans crossing for his second of the night and the bonus point. With Jones taking over kicking duties, the conversion was successful.
Cardiff fought to increase their total with Shaun Powell pushing for the line but to no avail. A yellow for Bridgend 20 Vaughan gave Cardiff a one-man advantage but it was too late. Minutes later the whistle was blown for full time and Cardiff could do little to salvage what was a very poor game of rugby and Bridgend’s first bonus point win of the season.
Bridgend 26 -5 Cardiff RFC