Saturday, 31 August 2013

Neath 15-17 Bridgend

Bridgend provided a late comeback to stun hosts Neath to progress through the first round of qualifying for the British and Irish Cup in the Ospreys region, and will now face either Aberavon or Swansea next weekend.

Deep in injury time, Ravens captain Ashley James capitalised on some poor Neath play to dive over, with fly half James Dixon holding his nerve to add the extras and seal the win.

It was the old cliché of a game of two halves with Neath completely dominating the opening 40 minutes but were unable to kill off the visitors, as Ben Rose’s men gradually came back into the match.
Neath were ahead as early as the second minute with Dai Langdon landing an early penalty before Dixon levelled matters three minutes later after a scrappy start to the game.
However, the rest of the first half belonged to the home side as they asserted their dominance at the breakdown and at the scrum, with the latter resulting in a penalty try. Neath got the shunt on 5 metres out and with the scrum only going one way, the Bridgend pack disintegrated under the pressure and referee Gwyn Morris went beneath the posts, Langdon knocking over the easiest of conversions.
Although Neath continued to have all the territory and possession, they were guilty of spurning a number of good chances, with scrum-half Josh Davies looking particularly lively around the fringes. Langdon also missed two shots at goal as the score remained 10-3 heading into the interval.
Both sides started the second half with more endeavour and Neath’s second try came after a mazy 60 metre jaunt from wing Bowdy Davies. Davies picked up the ball in his own half before bobbing and weaving his way into the Ravens 22. With the Bridgend defence in disarray, the ball was recycled and after four phases of play the ball was swept out to fullback Dale Ford, who darted over out-wide. Langdon once again failed to hit the mark from the tee.
One would have been forgiven for thinking that the result was now a foregone conclusion but sloppy play from the hosts from the restart gifted Bridgend field position, and almost out of nothing Dixon hacked through to re-gather and touchdown, with the ex-Carmarthen Quins man adding the extras.
Shortly after, Bridgend’s Sam Treharne required lengthy treatment before being carried from the field for a leg injury.
The match continued in the stop start vein with a number of injuries halting proceedings, before Bridgend replacement Owain Lloyd was sent to the bin 20 minutes from the end. The Gnoll faithful were reinvigorated but a lacklustre passage of play saw the hosts unable to capitalise on their extra man.
It was all Bridgend now, with Neath having to fend off wave after wave of attack as the hosts' Garyn Daniel fell foul of a yellow card from Morris.
After a number of attacking five metre scrums for the visitors, Neath looked to have come out the other side as the Ravens knocked on with the line at their mercy, but Neath once again failed to clear their lines with the ball squirting loose over their try line and hooker James was first to react to draw the sides level.
Dixon then stepped up and slotted the winning conversion with 90 minutes up on the clock. However, there was time for one last Neath attack as they desperately tried to force matters, but it wasn't to be,with their final assault resulting in a Bridgend penalty.


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