News from the 1st-XV
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Saturday, 16th September 2017
Winchester 34 Andover 13
In a hugely disappointing performance, Andover lost out comfortably to local rivals Winchester last Saturday.
The home club, rejuvenated under their new coach, were well organised but Andover had great hopes of upsetting them after a fine performance at Farnham last week.
Andover fielded a strong side and expectations were high as the game kicked off and Andover were immediately in the ascendency.
The Oakwood sponsored ‘All Blacks’ had a game plan and stuck to it well, starving Winchester of the ball and attacking constantly.
Winchester struggled to cope and after Charlie Waite had a try disallowed, the same player struck a long range on ten minutes to give Andover the lead.
Andover continued to press and had most of the possession, but despite a number of guilt edged chances, a combination of good defence and woeful finishing crucially kept them at bay.
Winchester had shown in a couple of forays they could be a threat and as Andover became frustrated their confidence grew.
Unusually they had gained parity with the Andover scrum and after James Monck had saved a certain score, from the resulting scrum the Winchester winger dived over to give his side the lead.
With ten minutes of the half left and a breeze to come in favour, Andover could have shut up shop until the break.
They continued to press however, but in trying to force the issue pressed the self-destruct button.
From a good position deep in the Winchester half, Andover were once again sloppy and when a loose pass went to ground the Winchester centre happily scooped up the free ball and raced sixty metres for a converted try.
To compound matters Niko Rowe was then harshly yellow carded at a ruck and it was all uphill from there.
In the second half Andover brought on Nic Reed in the front row and Evan Roll on the wing.
The impact the extra physicality both brought was immediate, with Andover finally taking control at scrum time and through Reed in particular, making big yards with the ball.
Winchester however were patient and as Andover once more failed with their handling the home side managed to win the resulting scrum and with the extra man wide the outcome was obvious.
Winchester added a further score, but with their kicker having an off-day Andover were by no means out of it and when Simon Preece touched down for pushover try from a powerful scrum, a comeback looked on.
Andover pressed hard and should have scored again.
From an attacking maul and a series of rucks, Tom Erskine found himself free with an easy run in, but the final pass to him was poor and once again Andover let the home side off the hook.
Winchester needed no second bidding and after soaking up more pressure they showed the wasteful visitors how to be clinical.
Two more tries followed one converted, as Andover again went down to fourteen men and it looked like a rout was on the cards.
Restored to fifteen for the final ten however, Andover finished the stronger and when Reed finished a simple move in the corner, Andover were left to rue what might have been if they’d been that ruthless all afternoon.
Afterwards Director of Rugby Andy Waite said ‘We are very disappointed and the lads have had a big heart to heart in the dressing room.’
‘That’s actually a big step forward and a positive, because it shows our players are growing in confidence that they should be taking points from tough games like this.’
‘We played well for twenty-five minutes and our game plan was working well, but for some reason we decided to abandon it in the middle part of the game and got punished.’
‘What that does show though, is that with more discipline and more clinical finishing we have the players and the system to upset anyone and that’s what we need to take forward.’