News from the 1st-XV
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Saturday, 23rd April 2016
Andover 29 Effingham and Leatherhead 5
After making it to safety last weekend, Oakwood sponsored Andover could have been forgiven for relaxing this week, but instead turned in their most impressive home performance of the season to dismiss a strong Leatherhead side.
The visitors turned up full of confidence after a good win of their own and boasting former Harlequins and England international Chris Sheasby in the back row.
But they found Andover in a tough and uncompromising mood and although they tried to match them, couldn’t compete with the pace power and accuracy of the home side.
Andover began down the slope and immediately set about dominating the set play.
Strong scrummaging and a secure lineout gave Andover lots of possession and with Nic Reed back to his bullocking best in the loose, Andover pressed repeatedly.
Kieran Jenvey, Tom Waite, Tom Erskine and Jordan Gray were all prominent as Andover looked certain to score, but inexplicably the home side chose not to take three easy points and the pressure came to nothing.
Undaunted Andover pressed on and after eighteen minutes got their reward.
Gray broke from a midfield scrum and after fine work from Carl Sievewright and Kieran Jenvey Billy Pollard was on hand to grab his second try in two matches with Charlie Waite converting.
Andover looked ominously strong with Niko Rowe and Sam Froggett dominating midfield and the powerful forwards rampaging.
Leatherhead defended manfully but five minutes before half time the game turned decisively.
A fine break down the line from Ed Williams took Andover close and from the ruck giant lock Tom Erskine drove over for a fine try.
From the kick off Leatherhead were penalised at a ruck. The ever lively Alex Kane took the quick tap and sprinted through before finding loosehead prop and skipper Alex Hibdige charging along in support.
Hibdige drew the last defender superbly before offloading back to Kane who finished neatly to give Charlie Waite an easy conversion.
Andover started the second half full of confidence.
Reed, Jenvey and Gray all carried strongly as Andover pressed repeatedly.
Ollie Lindridge took a break from his battle with Sheasby to win a towering lineout and from the pressure that followed Tom Waite burrowed over for a neat try.
Simon Preece and Stef Long came off the bench to add even more drive to the Andover effort and despite Leatherhead grabbing a neat score of their own it was never enough.
Andover were stung into action and with Williams and Jack Stott looking threatening it was inevitable Leatherhead would crack again.
After a series of drives prop James Monck cleared out a ruck superbly to leave a path for Gray to score the final try in his last game for the club, before the seventeen-year old Academy product moves to National league club Plymouth Albion.
‘This was a big day for us to send out a message to this league that we are here to stay’ said Coach Andy Waite afterwards.
‘We have now beaten all of the teams at least once up to fourth place and we know we have improved tremendously in the last third of the season.’
‘We are a work in progress and only going to get better from here. I would like to wish Jordan the best of luck in furthering his career on a national stage and thank my coaching colleagues, Marc Wilding, Sam Froggett and Michael Francis-Pollin for their incredible hard work this season. It’s been a real team effort from everyone and we’ve deserved our reward.’