News from the 1st-XV
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Saturday, 28th January 2017
Andover 28 Effingham and Leatherhead 17
Oakwood sponsored Andover took a huge step away from the London South West division two relegation zone at Foxcotte Park last Saturday, by beating nearest rivals Effingham and Leatherhead in a tense and exciting battle at Foxcotte park.
And it was young academy star Ioan Gwynne Davies who grabbed the headlines with as an assured display as you will see from a seventeen year old, including two very well taken tries, to help his team to a fully deserved win.
Billed as a must win game for both sides it was the Andover who kept their nerve, and despite a late rally from the visitors, denied them even a bonus point to move eight points clear of them.
The game started well for Andover playing down the Goodship slope and indeed for most of the first half they enjoyed almost uninterrupted possession.
Andover’s powerful pack, through Tom Erskine and James Monck and skipper Alex Hibdidge scrummaged superbly and although there were one or two hick ups at lineout time, here too the extra option of Luke Linssner provided constant ball for Andover.
In the loose Tom Waite and Simon Preece were outstanding and with the ever-improving Ben Ciccotti really starting to cause pain to opponents, Andover dominated every phase up front.
It was disappointing therefore that with all this dominance, Andover did not put the game fully to bed before the break and gave Effingham a glimmer of hope for the second period.
Indeed the biggest surprise was that it took eleven minutes to open the scoring, having camped on the Effingham line since kick off, but a series of short scrum chances were spurned before Kieran Jenvey dived over for the opener, with Charlie Waite converting.
The pattern continued but Andover again missed several guilt edged chances before Effingham signalled they were still fighting with a neat penalty of their own.
This stung Andover and before long both Dave Catt and Gwynne Davies had gone close as Jake Kane began to move the ball.
Then from a spell of good possession Ben Fulton set up play deep in the Effingham twenty two and a fine Charlie Waite pass, saw Gwynne Davies finish neatly in the corner.
Five minutes later Waite was again on target with a penalty as Effingham saw the first of several yellow cards in the game.
That seemed to spur them however and they finished the half on the front foot for the first time with only great defending particularly from Aaron Hatcher and Jenvey keeping them at bay.
After the break with slope against, Andover still dominated the forward play and before long Charlie Waite added another penalty to give them real breathing space.
Then came the score that ultimately put the game beyond the visitors.
Man of the match Simon Preece stole the ball from a lineout and and Kane flashed the ball wide, where wing Harry Foxwell drew his man and fed Gwynne Davies for a lovely try, superbly converted from the touchline by Charlie Waite.
Andover relaxed and pushed for the bonus point try, but a spilt ball in midfield gave the visitors a chance and they cleverly went through the phases to score a neat try and narrow the gap.
Too many times this season Andover have failed to close out games like this, but perhaps their greater maturity is now starting to show, as they shut up shop for a while before skipper Alex Hibidge asked Charlie Waite to kick a further penalty, instead of going for the bonus point try.
Andover were now well clear and after a flurry of two yellow cards a piece the game became disjointed and as it petered out Effingham scored a later try to gain some consolation, but it was not enough for any real reward.
Afterwards director of rugby Andy Waite was full of praise for his team ‘This was a job well done today.’ He said.
‘It was a bit disappointing not to get the extra point, but crucially we gave them nothing with a solid and sensible performance.’
‘We were under real pressure and reacted very well, training hard in the week and seeing it pay off today.’
‘The forwards lead by example and got their reward and as our inexperienced back line, really well marshalled by Ben Fulton, stood up and was counted.’