Ulster Ravens finished their British & Irish Cup campaign on a high with a 25-12 victory over Welsh side Aberavon at Deramore Park in Belfast this afternoon.
The Ravens, who were winless over the five previous rounds, outscored the visitors by three tries to two with all the touchdowns coming in the first half. It only took Kieran Campbell's men just three minutes to open the scoring.
They turned Aberavon over on their own 22-metre line and the forwards drove before scrum half Connor Young put in a probing kick to turn the visitors' defence. Aberavon winger Morgan Williams went down on the ball but spilled it, allowing Ricky Andrew (pictured below) to pick up and go over with Peter Nelson adding the conversion.
Full-back Nelson extended the Ravens' lead with a ninth minute penalty after the visitors were punished for hands in the ruck.
Kiwi Ronald Raaymakers got over for the hosts' second try on 15 minutes. They elected to kick a penalty into touch. From a catch and drive, the maul was pulled down and the Ravens went to the corner again, with flanker Raaymakers (pictured below) powering over from the back of a maul but Nelson was unable to convert.
Aberavon got back into the game from the restart. Young put in a poor clearance kick, Cameron Clement sent it back but a Ravens player touched it in flight, playing everyone on side. Kieran Harris reacted quickly, picking and breaking a couple of tackles before offloading to centre Matthew Jenkins to go over in the corner. Out-half Clement failed to convert.
The Ravens scored their third try on 34 minutes and it was the best score of the game. Out-half Sean O'Hagan got the ball on his own 10-metre line, he threw a dummy which completely wrongfooted the visitors' defence and saw him bursting through a huge gap, going deep into the Aberavon 22 before popping the ball to centre Sam Arnold to touch down and Nelson converted.
Aberavon had the last word of the first half when they ran back a poor kick out from defence, Harris broke through some weak tackling and fed Morgan Williams the ball. He went over Nelson to score and Clement's conversion reduced the arrears to 22-12 at the interval.
The Ravens were frustrated in the second half and could not turn their dominance at the scrum into points – although they were not helped when the set piece went uncontested.
The only points of the second period came from a Nelson penalty, as the former Ireland Under-20 international completed his 10-point haul.
Referee: Fergus Kirby (England)