An injury-struck Ledbury failed to maintain their title-winning momentum as they were narrowly defeated 34-30 by the Longlevens in their first cup clash.

The newly promoted teams battled in the first round of the Championship Cup on Saturday (April 13) in perfect conditions at Ross Road.

Despite an Ed Bennion hat-trick and tries from Zak Bonfield and Ben Stevens for the hosts, five-pointers from Mike York, a Jack Cuthbert double and Steve Phillips as well as the boot of Brad Wilkins saw Longlevens advance to the next round.



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The visitors were fast out the blocks, as the forwards and backs harmoniously combined to send York under the posts.

Ledbury managed to keep the visitor's aggressive attack at bay, and soon capitalised as Tom Hill broke free from a scrum before the supporting Bennion forced his way over for his first try of the day.

The hosts soon nudged ahead when 18-year-old Iolo Bubb successfully converted a penalty from a scrum.

However, Longlevens quickly regained the advantage, with second rower Cuthbert using his height to reach over the line to score between the posts.

Ledbury's George Harris was yellow carded, but despite being a man down, they resisted the visitors' relentless attack until half time.

The second half saw Longlevens asserting their dominance, with Cuthbert once again using his reach to dot the ball down, and add another to his tally for the day.

Phillips was next to cross the whitewash, peeling off a scrum five to force his way over from short range.

Trailing 20 points, the hosts started clutching at straws to stay in the game, with Bennion giving Ledbury a flicker of momentum as he picked up from the base of a scrum on the Longlevens 22 to maraud his way over for a try.

Pressure intensified for the visitors when York was sent to the bin, which allowed the hosts to head back upfield and send over Bennion for his hat-trick.

Following a further yellow card for Longlevens, Ledbury's Bonfield was held up over the line, but managed to jink his way free to score under the posts, and reduce the gap to just three points.

Ledbury failed to maintain their momentum and conceded two penalties to Longlevens, both of which were slotted by scrum-half Wilkins to extend the gap to nine points.

In the final minutes, the home side's all out attack paid off, as Stevens cross the line, but Longlevens' previously built lead proved unassailable.