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Ulster Ravens Overcome Pontypridd

Ulster Ravens Overcome Pontypridd

James McKinney held his nerve to kick the winning penalty in the dying minutes to secure a third straight win for the Ulster Ravens in the British & Irish Cup.

Pontypridd dominated for much of the match, but Gary Longwell will have been pleased by the grit shown by his side as they were twice reduced to 14 men.

It took just three minutes for Pontypridd out-half Dean Gunter to open the scoring when he kicked a penalty after the Ravens were penalised for a ruck infringement.

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The visitors continued to pile on the pressure in the early stages but a moment of magic from Peter Nelson was the catalyst for an improved period from the Ulster outfit.

After 12 minutes, the Dunngannon full-back fielded a loose kick and beat three players before chipping ahead and beating the cover defence to complete a superb individual try.

McKinney was unsuccessful with the conversion attempt but kicked two long range penalties to extend the lead to 11-3 after 25 minutes' play.

The Welsh side regained their early dominance in territory and possession and this eventually paid off when prop Ken Knaggs forced his way over from close range.

Shortly afterwards, Ravens centre Chris Farrell was sent to the sin-bin for not releasing a tackled player and Gunter kicked the resultant penalty to square the game at 11-11.

Ponty, with a man advantage, were starting to find more space in the Ravens' defence. A neat chip from scrum half Lewis Jones was collected by Matthew Nuthall who crashed over on the stroke of half-time.

The conversion attempt was missed by Gunter but his team went in at the interval armed with a five-point buffer.

Scoring opportunities were limited in the second period but McKinney added a third penalty on the hour mark to close the gap to 16-14.

The Ravens then had Willie Faloon sent to the sin-bin for going off his feet at the breakdown and Ponty looked to take advantage again with a wave of attacks.

But the Ulstermen's defence held firm in the face of extreme pressure and eventually they worked their way downfield to earn a vital penalty. Up stepped McKinney to land a high pressure kick with two minutes remaining and seal a gutsy home victory.

The result has moved the Ravens onto 13 points and to the top of Pool 5, with scoring difference separating them and fellow unbeaten side Nottingham. The six pool winners and two best runners-up will progress to the quarter-finals.

Referee: James Matthew (Scotland)