Bridgend Ravens have a trip to the Millennium Stadium to look forward to on Sunday evening where they will face Pontypridd for the honour of lifting the Swalec Cup.
It is Bridgend’s first Welsh cup final in 25 years, and they will be hoping to lift the cup for the first time since 1980. Led by Captain Ashleigh James, Bridgend will look to put Pontypridd to the sword for the second time this season, having already beaten them in the Principality Premiership in January. The Ravens are the only team to beat Pontypridd, and a repeat of that result on Sunday will prevent Pontypridd from winning a historic ‘Treble double.’ The game kicks off at 5:35pm and is part of a feast of rugby at the national stadium, which will see the Bowl and Plate finals precede the cup final which Bridgend are taking part in.
Pontypridd will go into the game as favourites having romped to another top of the table finish, with a Play-Off final against either Ebbw Vale or Cross Keys to decide the 2014/15 league champions. Bridgend finished one from bottom in the league, winning five games in the Premiership in a disappointing season for the club. The cup has proved a welcome distraction, where they have disposed of Cardiff and Carmarthen Quins of the Premiership along with Llanharan and Merthyr of the Championship in an exciting run to the cup final.
Having been handsomely beaten by Cross Keys at the Bridgend Ford Brewery Field (5-66) on Tuesday evening, Bridgend silenced a lot of criticism by coming close to stealing the spoils at Pandy Park just four days later. It ended 44-38, after a late Bridgend rally almost saw them do enough to take the lead.
Bridgend will have one more training session at the Bridgend Ford Brewery Field this evening in preparation for the Millennium Stadium clash before naming their side.
Pontypridd name a strong side, with Cardiff Blues outside-half, Simon Humberstone returning to the XV replacing former-Raven, Lewis K Williams. Last season’s Bridgend Ravens skipper, Alex Jones will eagerly await his opportunity from the substitute’s bench. The Valley side are led by Captain Dafydd Lockyer.
You can get your tickets from the Bridgend Ford Brewery Field between 12-2pm at the club office in the hospitality boxes, or between 6-8pm when the club shop will be open selling tickets and merchandise.
THOUGHTS FROM PLAYERS:
Ahead of the small matter of Sunday's SWALEC CUP Final, Ravens winger Tom O'Flaherty gives his thoughts on facing reigning champions Pontypridd.
"Everyone's really excited about the game. There's a good feeling in the camp and we feel that we've got a good chance of winning."
O'Flaherty, fresh from Varsity Match glory with Cardiff University at the Liberty Stadium last week, isn't a stranger to the Millennium, having scored two tries in last year's Varsity Match.
"Everything's been good building up to this day over the last few weeks. It's a cup final, anything can happen and we've proven that we can beat them this season…"
‘I can't wait for the game on Sunday. It's such a big occasion and it will be such a privilege to play for Bridgend if I am selected. I know the rest of the boys are excited about the opportunity and we looking forward to repaying the fans with a day out in Cardiff.’
'It has always been a dream to play at the Millennium Stadium ever since I started playing rugby. The support we have had through this year has been great, even though we have had a fairly poor league season. The supporters have always stuck by our side - as we saw up in Cross Keys on Saturday."
THOUGHTS FROM OTHERS:
Carwyn Jones, a life long Bridgend fan since his first match in 1975, fondly remembers the 1979 final, which was in fact against this year's rivals, former regional stablemates Pontypridd.
"I was there in 1979 when we beat Pontypridd to win our first Cup Final. Steve Fenwick won the game that day with fifteen points before going off injured. That day was the first final for both teams and it was a great game which Ponty almost snatched at the end. Pontypridd are a very good team, with a great record in the Premiership having lost only one game all season. Let’s remind ourselves though who beat them on that occasion! They say lightening doesn’t strike twice but it will on the 3rd May. Best of luck to the Ravens and let’s bring the Cup back to Bridgend again."