Bridgend 37 Aberavon 21
(by Howard Evans)

It was a dismal day weather-wise at the Brewery Field and Aberavon put in a dismal performance with Bridgend deservedly winning even when reduced to 12 men on the field at one stage.

The Ravens tackled splendidly and had done their homework, pasting Aberavon up front and knowing exactly the game Aberavon would try to play.

One Bridgend voice behind me said that Aberavon play nice rugby. Yes, but predictable and when plan A did not work, there was no plan B it appeared, mostly because the pack were well beaten.

With the exception of James Garland, the majestic running of Jay Baker and the graft of Ben Jones, plus the excusable lack of thrust by Lee Purnell, the club's best player so far this season, but returning from injury, then there was little else.

Yes, the officials were worse than poor, but as one wag said, equally bad for both sides. Referee Breakspear was fit, always up with play, but then quite unable to make crucial decisions and having to ask every man and his dog what happens next.

Fit referees are one thing, good referees are quite another. It is a hard learning curve, but fitness is everything it seems these days, not experience.

However, that does not mean that Bridgend were lucky, for they won by good planning and every man doing his job.

Aberavon it seems no longer want to kick penalties at goal. Bridgend did.

A super start saw Garland run well and Baker support in style. Garland goaled for 7-0, then it all went wrong.

A scrum half passing out every ball is no help to the fly half and Bridgend gunned their men down and were quick to capitalise on errors.

Aaron Grabham chased and kicked on for about 70 metres for a try and Ryan Evans, who played well, converted and placed three penalties for a 16-7 half-time lead.

A penalty try took them further ahead though Garland dummied his way over and converted at 23-14, but lock Keiron Martin scored and Evans converted and it was all over bar the loads of added time.

Aberavon did get a try when Baker ran superbly and Stef Williams drop-kicked the conversion, but after a super punch-up that warmed the blood, prop Owen Thomas crossed and Jamie Murphy goaled to seal it for Bridgend.

It was a game to forget and certainly there will be much drawing board work to come and please remember these are my views entirely.

Bridgend 37 - 21 Aberavon

Aberavon Team:
Chris Banfield; Shaun Pearce (rep Steffen Williams 70 min), Will Price, Rheon James, Jay Baker; James Garland (capt), Jacob Flynn (rep David Pritchard 57 min) ; Jordan Walters (rep Mike Burgess 62 min), Luke Davies (rep Ieuan Davies 49 min), Jon Thomas (rep Rhys Forse 57 min), Ben Thomas (rep Ben Davies 62 min), Ben Jones, Lee Purnell, Luke Joseph (rep Rob Dudley-Jones 55 min), Joe Tomalin-Reeves.

Replacement not used: Liam Popham.
Jay Baker & Jordan Walters appeared from the Ospreys

Aberavon Scorers:
T - Jay Baker (2), James Garland
C - James Garland (2), Steffen Williams

Bridgend Scorers:
T - Aaron Grabham, Penalty Try, Kieran Martin, Owen Thomas
C - Ryan Evans (2), Jamie Murphy
PG - Ryan Evans (3)

Ben Breakspear

Man Of The Match:
1 - Jacob Flynn 
2 - Chris Banfield
3 - Jay Baker

Time Line:
01 min: Aberavon - T - Jay Baker & C - James Garland (0 - 7)
09 min: Bridgend - T - Aaron Grabham & C - Ryan Evans (7 - 7)
22 min: Bridgend - PG - Ryan Evans (10 - 7)
27 min: Bridgend - PG - Ryan Evans (13 - 7)
40+ min: Bridgend - PG - Ryan Evans (16 - 7)
Half Time
51 min: Aberavon - T - James Garland & C - James Garland (16 - 14)
52 min: Bridgend - T - Penalty Try (23 - 14)
56 min: Bridgend - T - Kieran Martin & C - Ryan Evans (30 - 14)
69 min: Bridgend - Yellow Card - Iestyn Merriman
71 min: Bridgend - Yellow Card - Garyn Daniel
74 min: Bridgend - Red Card - Zach O'Driscoll 
74 min: Aberavon - Yellow Card - Joe Tomalin-Reeves
74 min: Aberavon - Yellow Card - Ieuan Davies
78 min: Bridgend - Yellow Card - Ryan Evans
79 min: Aberavon - T - Jay Baker & C - Steffen Williams (30 - 21)
80+ min: Bridgend - T - Owen Thomas & C - Jamie Murphy (37 - 21)
Full Time