News from the 1st-XV
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Saturday, 4th March 2017
London Exiles 13 Andover 14
For the first time in seven attempts, Oakwood sponsored Andover beat London Exiles last weekend, to send out a clear message that they are not going down from London South West two without a fight.
Exiles have been something of a bogey team for Andover, but on this occasion the All Blacks were well worth their first away win of the season and indeed could have won more comfortably.
Although delayed by traffic disruption and with only two travelling on the bench, Andover fielded a strong looking team and from the off looked the side who had more to play for than their mid table opponents.
The Andover pack dominated every facet of the tight game, but it was in the loose where Exiles are often so dangerous, that Andover really took the game to them.
Nic Reed, Tom Erskine and Luke Linssner all carried strongly throughout, but in defence and attack the Andover back row of Ollie Lindridge, Simon Preece and seventeen year old Academy product Fin Waite, were the real difference.
Waite in particular produced a man of the match performance at openside, ensuring Andover retained possession much better than of late and with his unerring lineout throw, gave Andover a real platform with which to attack.
And attack they did. With a lions share of possession, Andover pressed the Exiles line constantly and after a series of close calls, a well executed backs move saw the impressive Rich Retallick crash over for a try converted by Charlie Waite.
The game settled in midfield for a period, before Exiles kicked a penalty with a rare foray into the Andover half.
Then, as the Andover front row of James Monck, Reed and skipper Alex Hibdige really turned the screw, Andover should have put themselves well clear.
Firstly, Andover missed a very kickable scrum penalty and then from another five meter scrum, didn’t manage the final touch down when certain to score.
As always at this level they were made to pay, when from a catch and drive converted try Exiles took the lead.
Both sides missed penalties before the break but after Andover once again pushed forwards.
Charlie Waite and Ben Fulton began to look impressive in midfield prompted by Jonny Rogers and Jake Kane threatened on the wing.
It was Exiles who went further ahead from a penalty however and as the half wore on it looked like Andover may once again come up short.
They never panicked though and the pressure exerted at scrum and lineout saw Exiles finally begin to tire.
From a short scrum Andover were awarded a penalty. Kieran Jenvey tapped and went for the line, but as he was held up Preece grabbed the ball and willed himself over to put Andover one point behind.
With the clock ticking Retallick stepped up for the conversion and Andover were back in front.
From the kick off Andover secured possession and drove upfield skillfully trying to see the game out.
With the last play however Exiles were awarded a scrum and the threat was back on.
But Reed was having none of it though, he stole the scrum against the head and as the ball came out Jenvey booted it into touch to spark the celebrations.
Afterwards Andover director of rugby Andy Waite was pleased but cautious.
‘This was a big and important win and we showed we have fight in bucketloads.’ He said.
‘There were some big performances out there, especially from unsung players like Fin Waite Conor Churchill and Harry Foxwell, who really put in a shift. I’d also like to thank unused replacement Dean Andrews who also showed all of the commitment we need’
‘We must keep our feet on the ground now though, train hard this week and go again Saturday against Twickenham or it counts for nothing.’