News from the 1st-XV

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Saturday, 16th April 2016

KCS Old Boys 0 Andover 47
After a monumental struggle over the past few months, Andover finally came of age in London South West division two last weekend, with a brilliant display in Kingston against KCS Old Boys.
Andover needed to win and hope Weybridge Vandals result went their way, to avoid a nerve racking final weekend, indeed defeat for Andover would have meant almost certain relegation.
If there were any nerves however they didn’t show, as under new skipper Alex Hibdidge, from the off Andover tore into the home side with a grim determination and soon showed that they have the class to not only survive, but do well at this level.
A scrum in the first minute gave Andover the opportunity to assert their dominance up front and as KCS went backwards the scene was set.
After five minutes the imperious Ollie Lindridge won a towering lineout, Kieran Jenvey fed Tom Waite who drove for the line and as he was held, Billy Pollard confirmed his recent improvement with a superbly taken try, converted by Charlie Waite.
KCS soon showed that they were in no mood to gift Andover anything and put the visitors under a lot of pressure. Superb defence however kept them out comfortably and as Andover reasserted themselves it was the home side who succumbed again.
Tom Waite fielded a high kick-off superbly and when giant prop Carl Sievewright smashed through the home midfield to set up a ruck, Alex Kane stepped in at scrum half, seized the ball and danced through the defence to score a lovely try, once again converted by Charlie Waite.
Andover looked completely in charge, but a yellow card for Kane soon changed that   as for ten minutes KCS lay siege to Andover.
Great defence from Niko Rowe and the impressive Ed Williams blunted everything they tried however and with the booming boot of Charlie Waite continually sending them backwards, Andover weathered the storm.
On the stroke of half time KCS got a yellow of their own and with wind at their back after the break, Andover put them to the sword.
From the restart Andover won a lineout ten meters out and with ball secure, youngster Jordan Gray crashed over for a try converted once more by Waite.
Big second row Tom Erskine who had already shown his worth in defence, began to make inroads with the ball in hand and from a charge he made the game swung in Andover’s direction.
As Andover contested the ruck, the home prop lost his head and punched Tom Waite in front of the referee, who had no option but to produce the red card and with him went any hopes for KCS.
Andover went for the throat and before long any doubt about the result was removed.
Simon Preece crashed over from another lineout with Waite once more converting before the excellent Gray finished his brace from a short scrum.
Jack Stott then intercepted on half way to race away and score and finally the superb Niko Rowe smashed over after another series of short scrums, with Waite adding two more conversions to finish the scoring. 
As the game came to a close, news came through that London Cornish had beaten Weybridge Vandals and with a bonus point win in the bag, Andover were safe with a game to go.
The referees final whistle was met with celebrations fitting of winning the league, as the squad allowed themselves to recognise the enormity of what they’d achieved.
Afterwards coach Andy Waite said ‘We were excellent today and thoroughly deserved our win. We didn’t allow ourselves to worry about what was happening elsewhere and focused on our job.’
‘We’ve been used to big games over the last few seasons albeit usually at the top of a table, but that experience of being in ‘who blinks first’ situations, has really stood us in good stead.’
‘We’ve learned a lot this year and we’ve been threatening a performance like this for some time, it was so important to stay up because I feel we will be much better next season.’ 
Andover sign off this Saturday at home against Effingham and Leatherhead. ‘As our senior coach Marc Wilding said on Saturday, this be the first game we’ve had for four years where we can relax and enjoy the occasion. We are still looking for a good performance but I think Saturday night will be some celebration.’


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