Bridgend Ravens produced a much improved performance to come within minutes of beating Bedwas on Boxing Day.
In front of an impressive crowd of 1,088, the Ravens cruelly had victory snatched from them after Harley Thompson scored five minutes before the end.
The game started poorly for the home side. Lewis Hudd crossed within the first five minutes to put his side ahead. Italian international fly half, Kris Burton missed the conversion.
Bridgend kept themselves in the game thanks to a penalty from the ever reliable James Dixon, and just two minutes later, captain Tom Grabham produced a moment of brilliance to put Bridgend into the lead. Dixon slotted the extras.
The Ravens continued to play exciting rugby, with Bedwas holding firm. Sadly for the hosts, Matthew Pewtner was able to crash over to give the men of Gwent the advantage. This time, Burton slotted the points.
Just before the interval, Ross Jones missed a penalty attempt, but as the referee blew for half time, the game was poised on a knife edge with the visitors leading 10-12.
Bridgend started the second half the much better side, and within the first 10 minutes retook the lead. Ross Jones slotted two excellent penalty goals to put the Ravens in a stronger position.
Bedwas reply came from the boot of Burton, but it was to be Bridgend who made the next notable contribution to the scoreboard. Excellent second row, Owain Lloyd was able to worm his way over the whitewash from close range. Jones successfully made it a seven point score.
With the home crowd now firmly behind their resurgent side, the Ravens went hunting for further scores, but a lapse in concentration saw Bedwas break, allowing winger Rory Budina to score out wide, with Burton again missing an attempt at goal for the conversion.
There was just ten minutes left, and three points in the game and the Ravens seemed certain to hold out, and looked the more likely to add to their score. It was not to be, however, as Harley Thompson broke Ravens hearts with a surge through the defence to touch down under the posts.
To their credit, Bridgend did not let their heads drop and fought right until the final whistle to regain their lead. Bedwas held out to ease their relegation worries, whilst heaping more pressure on a Ravens side that is sadly languishing in the lower region of the table.
Nearly 40 players were involved in the first Wales Under 18 training session of the season. WRU National Performance Manager Gethin Watts is excited at the potential shown by the group and expects the Regional Under 18 Championship to hone their skills even further.