2003 Grand Final - Blue Bulls 42 Fighting Irish 8
14th August 2003, 20:32
Bridgend's awesome foursome of John Devereux, Kevin Ellis, Allan Bateman and Lenny Woodard starred as the Blue Bulls gave Aberavon Fighting Irish a second half hammering to firmly secure their status as Welsh champions, on Thursday night.
The Irish started the game on top living up to their nickname by playing some excellent attacking rugby and defending with equal fervour and took the lead with a Mike Healy penalty in the tenth minute after Bridgend were caught off-side.
The Blue Bulls response was immediate, from a scrum on the Irish ten metre line; Kevin Ellis took advantage of a hole in the Irish defence touching down between the sticks, Mark Davies converting to make it 6-2.
For the remainder of the quarter, the Irish fought back with a series of attacks but could not quite make the breakthrough.
The game was held up for half an hour as Irish forward, Simon "Mad Dog" Bailey was accidentally kicked in the neck during a tackle, was unable to move and an ambulance called to assist him.
The Irish momentum was then lost and in the final 20 minutes of the first period play became scrappy as neither side managed to take control.
The only remaining score of the half was a Marcus Sainsbury try by the posts for the hosts, Davies again converting to make the half time score 12-2. Aberavon fired their way into the second half, scoring after only two minutes to put the contest back on a knife edge. From a home knock-on near to the Bulls try-line, loose forward Scot O'Kelly forced his way over the line, Mike Healy converting to bring the score back to 12-8.
That seemed to fire Bridgend who dominated and after a Mark Davies penalty goal, Hywel Davies touched the ball down in the corner, the referee awarding the try despite the grounding being in dispute.
Four minutes later was the try that effectively clinched the game after some fantastic skill from Allan Bateman. The former Warrington hero bamboozled the Aberavon cover defence to touch down and three tries in the last ten minutes from John Devereux, Lenny Woodard and Nathan Strong gave the Bulls an emphatic win.
Bulls' player/manager, Kevin Ellis was happy with his team's performance.
"Aberavon gave us quite a scare for a while; it was a very physical game. But I'm really happy with the result" he commented. "We had 17 warriors out there today."