News from the 1st-XV
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Saturday, 4th November 2017
Eastleigh 25 Andover 13
The last time these two old rivals met in the league was three seasons ago, in a game that ended in a defeat for Andover that cost them the London South West three title.
On this occasion there was more at stake for the home side as they desperately needed to win to lift them away from the relegation zone and once again they proved too much for the ‘All Blacks.’
In a close, hard fought affair that was in the balance with ten minutes to go, Andover three times allowed the lead to slip and when it came down to the wire, it was they who blinked first as Eastleigh finished the stronger.
Andover began the game well when a monstrous hit from Tom Waite gave brother Charlie the chance to give Andover a first minute lead with a long-range penalty.
Just three minutes later however the home kicker sounded a warning Andover were not to heed, drawing the teams level with a fine kick against the wind.
For the next twenty-five minutes Andover enjoyed almost continuous possession behind a powerful scrum and with Ollie Lindridge dominating the lineouts.
Andover’s carrying game was strangely out of sorts however despite the efforts of Simon Preece and James Monck, as they struggled to deal with Eastleigh’s desire at the breakdown.
Eastleigh’s defence was effective, but they gave away a string of penalties from which Andover failed to capitalise, as wrong options let the home side off the hook.
On the half hour though the pressure finally told and Andover took a lead that looked to be decisive.
From a short scrum Kieran Jenvey fed Jack Stott on the blind side and the winger broke a tackle to score with Charlie Waite converting superbly from the touchline.
From the kick off however Andover hesitancy led to a penalty and Eastleigh immediately reduced the arrears.
Andover pressed again, but once were wasteful and on the stroke of half time the home side reduced the lead further with another good kick.
After the break Andover camped on the Eastleigh line with youngster Ioan Gwynne Davies orchestrating the attack, but a dropped ball from a catch and drive and a controversial free kick from a scrum allowed Eastleigh to clear.
With their tails up Eastleigh began to attack more and once again Andover gave their stand off the chance to use his powerful boot. He obliged and Eastleigh had the lead.
Almost immediately though Charlie Waite replied in kind to retake the lead for Andover and with ten minutes left it was looking good for the visitors.
Still Andover did not learn however and two more successful kicks for Eastleigh finally edged them in front and when Charlie Waite missed a difficult reply, the writing was on the wall.
With a large noisy crowd beginning to believe Andover cracked under the pressure and a couple of defensive errors gave the home side good field position.
As they pressed Andover defended for their lives, but in the end the pressure told and Eastleigh dived under the posts for a try that set off wild celebrations and denied Andover even a bonus point.
Afterwards Director of Rugby Andy Waite said ‘We told the guys during the week that this would be a very tough day and a potential banana skin for us, as it was a must win game for Eastleigh.’
‘We stood up well to the challenge for the most part, but with so much dominance up front we really do need to believe in our system, be patient and take our scoring opportunities better.’
‘I thought our youngsters all played well again especially Jack Potter in the centre and it is a learning curve for them, but in the end Eastleigh had a very simple game plan that they executed well and just about deserved the win.’