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Saturday, 5th November 2016

Andover 28 London Exiles 36

A stirring second half performance was not quite enough for Andover last weekend as they had to settle for just a bonus point against old adversaries London Exiles.

There was much to admire for the home side however as they ran Exiles mightily close in a pulsating second half and for the first time showed they have the fire power to beat them.

Indeed it was the first time Andover have taken a point from Exiles and to do so with four tries shows a big improvement from last season and the National cup match in October, when Andover were well beaten.

The game began promisingly for Andover playing up the Goodship slope and against the wind.

After early pressure Charlie Waite hit the post with a long range penalty but Andover dropped the rebound when certain to score.

Soon after a fine Kieran Jenvey break, saw a ruck on the Exiles line, but a knock on once again thwarted Andover.

Exiles then showed the home side that at this level there is a need to be clinical, when with their first foray into Andover territory missed tackles gave them a chance they gratefully accepted.

Almost immediately Exiles extended their lead with a penalty but when soon after another brilliant break by Kieran Jenvey, saw Andover once again miss a golden opportunity the signs were ominous.

Andover steadied the ship and started to make inroads into Exiles, but were soon undone when a yellow card for Tom Erskine gave the visitors another penalty to stretch their lead.

A man down Andover struggled, but seemed to have weathered the worst, when two bad errors looked to have put exiles out of sight. 

A misplaced kick and an intercepted pass gave the visitors two further tries before the break as Andover seemed to be out for the count.

Despite these two blows however, in the final five minutes of the half Erskine rejoined the fray and the green shoots of recovery immediately began.

At half time senior Coach Marc Wilding delivered a much needed team talk and with Patrick Holmes joining Niko Rowe in the center and Jack Stott reverting to the wing all-out attack was the order of the day.

The result was immediate as Andover tore into Exiles.

With Erskine and Luke Linssner at the fore, holes began to appear in the visitors defence but Andover were once again wasteful. 

A five meter scrum however finally did the trick as Aaron Hatcher crashed over for a fine try converted by Charlie Waite. 

Andover sensed blood and with Tom Waite wreaking havoc in the loose they poured forwards and it was his break, carried on by Jenvey, that saw stand off Charlie Waite crash over from a ruck to score a try any forward would have been proud of, which he quickly converted himself.

Andover were back in it as Simon Preece and Ben Ciccotti began to dominate the back row and when Tom Waite again went deep into the Exiles twenty-two, a superb cross kick from brother Charlie saw Stott score a wonderful try which Waite converted from wide out.

With just a score in it Andover looked most likely to go on and win, but Exiles struck with their only attack of the half to secure their bonus point with another try.

The Andover response was immediate and once again Charlie Waite was the architect as his fine break set Josh Gibbs over in the corner and when Waite converted from the touchline, it looked like the home side had at least secured a second bonus point.

From the kick off however a mistake gave Exiles possession and as they prepared to kick the ball out to end the game, a silly penalty gave them the chance to make sure Andover were left with just the single point.

Afterwards Director of rugby Andy Waite said ‘In the end this felt like a victory. To get a bonus point from 28-0 down was a monumental effort and in the end, we probably should have had two.’

We’re under no illusions though that we need to improve defensively and be more clinical in attack. The players need to be more focused for the whole eighty minutes but we’re confident we will pull clear of trouble.’


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