News from the 1st-XV

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Saturday, 24th September 2016

Andover 23 Portsmouth 15

After a disastrous first twenty minutes Oakwood sponsored Andover staged an impressive comeback against Portsmouth to record their first win of the season.

The visitors comfortably beat Andover in the corresponding fixture last season using their giant forwards to dominate and strangle the ‘All Blacks’ ambition.

They tried the same approach this time, but Andover showed just how far they have matured at this level in the past nine months, by producing a forward display that saw the Portsmouth eight creak, groan and eventually collapse under the onslaught.

At scrum time Andover impressed from the start with front row Carl Sievewright, James Monck and Alex Hibdige dominating. 

The lineout was also generally sound, but it was in the loose where Andover saw the big difference from the last encounter. 

The powerful Portsmouth back row who caused so much damage last time out, were for the most part nullified by the hard tackling of Billy Pollard and the nuggetty competitiveness of Michael Roberts.

This allowed the pace and power of Aaron Hatcher, Ollie Lindridge and the impressive Tom Erskine to get Andover going forwards and feed a set of backs who revelled in the space.

It all began so differently for Andover who missed a penalty after a sharp start but then almost imploded. 

Against a strong wind Andover handed field position to the visitors with a couple of silly penalties and were soon made to pay with a neat catch and drive converted try and a long range penalty.

Andover learned from the try however and superb defence prevented Portsmouth repeating the score.

It seemed Andover had weathered the early storm and were starting to make inroads when a defensive error gave Portsmouth the chance for a second try and at fifteen nil up probably thought they were well on top.

As though stung however, Andover suddenly clicked into gear and produced a second twenty minutes that stunned the visitors.

Niko Rowe and new center partner and man of the match Ben Fulton, ripped through the midfield defence to run deep into the Portsmouth twenty-two before a superb pass from Jake Kane saw Jack Stott go over in the corner.

If that was impressive the next try was breathtaking. 

From a scrum penalty despite the strong wind against, Charlie Waite found a fine touch and from the lineout Kieran Jenvey flashed the ball to an eager Kane. He set in motion a move that involved the whole backline before Ed Williams finished superbly out wide.

Half time came and despite the elements Andover were right back in it.

Andover began the second half exactly where they left off the first and cut swathes through the visitors defence.

After a series of short scrums Jenvey broke and fed Roberts for a fine try converted by Waite.

Andover were in front and soon should have been out of sight when Kane was hauled back when certain to score. Waite increased the lead from the resultant penalty.

Andover pressed and pressed with Nic Reed and Simon Preece joining the play up front but a further try wouldn’t come.

From another scrum penalty Andover once again showed how they and skipper Hibdige have matured by allowing Waite to kick the points to make the game safe, rather than going for the bonus point try.

Andover then went for the bonus point, but were just prevented by desperate Portsmouth defence as the referee blew for time.

Afterwards Andover Director of rugby Andy Waite said ‘We have played well in all of our games and I think we knew this result was coming.’

‘We showed up front how hard our coaches Marc Wilding and Tel Watkins have worked and improved us and I was very impressed with the way Kieran Jenvey gave us the platform we have been asking him for, to release the backs.

‘Ben Fulton gave us more balance in midfield and the really good news is there is more improvement to come.’

‘I would like to thank winger Stef Long who was the only player not to get on Saturday. He is a player of real quality and to have a bench like that shows how much depth we are now developing.’ 


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