News from the 1st-XV
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Saturday, 8th April 2017
Old Reigatian 24 Andover 34
They’ve done it, Andover are staying up.
In an incredible display of rugby, easily their best of the season, Andover pulled off the great escape at high flying old Reigatian last Saturday and sent old rivals Portsmouth crashing through the trap door.
Four tries from Charlie Waite stole the headlines, as the young winger’s pace, power and ball skills terrorized the home defence all afternoon, but in truth it was the all- round display from all eighteen players that did the job.
Reigatian came into this one at full strength, determined to finish the season on a high and were still very much in this game in the last quarter, but for the second week in a row, Andover were patient, kept the ball well, ground them down up front and then went for the throat.
Man of the match Tom Waite and Niko Rowe were in awesome form and with Nic Reed having his best game of the season at tight head, Reigatian just could not cope with the number of different threats Andover had.
‘We went into this one without regulars James Monck, Simon Preece and Ben Fulton, but welcomed back long term absentees Ben Ciccotti and Ed Williams.’ Said director of rugby Andy Waite.
‘We also had Billy Pollard, Carl Sievewright and Jake Kane returning to add great impact from the bench and it’s this extra depth that made a huge difference.’
The game began well for Andover when after just five minutes a catch and drive lineout saw the excellent Kieran Jenvey flash the ball to Rowe, who put Charlie Waite in the corner for his first try.
The home side responded immediately and when Reed was unfortunately carded for a high tackle, they took advantage scoring two tries of their own to take the lead.
Andover did not panic however and after a series of scrum penalties which saw Reigatian receive a yellow card, Ollie Lindridge neatly finished a pushover try converted by Rich Retallick.
Reigatian extended the narrow lead with a penalty but before the break Andover drew level.
A superb wide pass from Tom Waite gave brother Charlie lots of space on the ten metre line. With plenty still to do he fizzed past the cover to finish in the corner and level the game at the break.
Pollard and Kane replaced Ciccotti and Ioan Gwynne Davies at half time and although Andover quickly went behind again, their presence was soon felt.
Pollard soon showed what Andover have been missing with his long injury, as his extra physical presence gave teenage flanker Fin Waite the license to roam and disrupt and suddenly Andover looked on top.
The engine room of Tom Erskine and Luke Linssner, along with skipper Alex Hibidge were carrying strongly and from good field position Reigatian began to panic.
A poor defensive kick found Kane on his own and his chip and chase and outrageous offload, gave Williams a chance he would not miss.
Andover were level and had the bonus point, but that was not enough, they had to win to be sure of safety and they went for it.
With Tom Waite seemingly everywhere and Jonny Rogers pulling the strings, Rowe and Williams ran riot.
Reigatian defended manfully, but when this trio combined to put Charlie Waite in for his hattrick, Andover finally took the lead with ten minutes left on the clock.
It was too close for comfort and Andover had to score again to be safe from any late disaster.
Then came a moment of individual brilliance that sealed matters.
Fielding a defensive kick on half way Charlie Waite sprinted at the wall of cover, chipped ahead, grabbed the high bouncing ball from the air and finished wonderfully to send his team and the large travelling support into raptures.
Moments from the restart Lindridge won the ball, Jenvey booted to touch and Andover had done it.
‘I take my hat off to Charlie. If anyone deserved to play such a big part today it was him. He is our only player to have played every minute of every game this season, often out of position in long away games in the winter.’ Said Andy Waite
‘It’s this and the attitude of his fellow stalwarts, who eked out bonus points in these tough dark days when we looked dead and buried, that have played a huge part in keeping us up.’
‘Portsmouth have gone down with seven points more than we got last season, so that will tell you how tough and what a monumental achievement this has been, for a group of amateur local boys.’