Bridgend RFC 14 Bedwas RFC 55
Fosters Challenge Cup, Saturday 11th March 2017
Match report and photography by Ian Lovell.
Six scintillating first half tries in a display of clinical, accurate rugby paved the way for Bedwas to seal a second successive Fosters Challenge Cup final appearance.
Bedwas showed their intent from the start and the game was barely two minutes old when Chris Budgen was driven over for the opening try, Richard Powell added the conversion.
Six minutes later Nicky Griffiths found the space to run in for his sides’ second try, Powell again converting. The visiting supporters didn’t have to wait long for the third try. Budgen was denied a clear second try by the unsighted referee before James Richards forced his way through a pile of bodies to cross; Powell’s conversion struck an upright and bounced clear.
Keeping the momentum going Powell added a penalty kick before Nicky Griffiths broke through to stretch out to add his sides’ fourth try, Powell successfully added the extras to extend his sides’ advantage to 29 points with only 22 minutes played.
Bridgend tried to get back into the game but met a stubborn Bedwas defence. A Pat Lewis try converted by Powell after 30 minutes added salt to the wounds as Bridgend had no answer to the accuracy in attack shown by their opponents.
With the clock ticking towards half time Aaron Bramwell squeezed his way through the home defence for his sides’ sixth try of the afternoon, Powell added the extras to put his side 43 points ahead at the interval.
An injury to Richard Powell (replaced by James Dixon) and replacements of George Lee and Mike Callow with Nathan Hudd and Connor Edwards respectively upset the Bedwas rhythm and Bridgend got onto the scoreboard early in the second half to the delight of their supporters as winger Tom O’Flaherty exploited a hole in in the Bedwas defence to cross, Joseph Scrivens added the conversion.
Any thoughts of a comeback Bridgend may have harboured quickly evaporated as Connor Edwards forced his way through the home defence to set up Pat Lewis for his sides 7th try of the afternoon, James Dixon’s conversion attempt going wide.
Bridgend looked for salvation and dominated possession and with Bedwas on the back foot former Ravens’ favourite James Dixon was sinbinned for killing the ball at a ruck. Geraint Edmunds responded in the best possible way shortly afterwards to crash over for his sides 8th try, Bramwell took over the kicking tee to successfully add the extras. Edmunds then had to withdraw from the contest with injury leaving Bedwas down to 13 men for over five minutes. However, the home side were unable to take advantage of the superior numbers and the scoreboard operator was not needed.
Bridgend didn’t give in and with two minutes left to play O’Flaherty found the space to cross for a consolation try which was converted by replacement Jacob Lloyd.
Bedwas will play the winners of the second semi-final which takes place on Wednesday 15th March 2017 at the Talbot Athletic Ground, Aberavon when Carmarthen Quins and Merthyr lock horns. (Neutral) venue and date of final to be confirmed.
In the meantime next weekend sees Principality Premiership rugby return as Bedwas make the long trek to Colwyn Bay to take on Rygbi Gogledd Cymru RFC at Parc Eirias, kick off 1-00pm.