News from the 1st-XV
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Saturday, 25th November 2017
Twickenham 61 Andover 10
A much changed Oakwood sponsored Andover made the journey to west London last weekend to face third placed Twickenham, who are much improved and flying high this season.
Injury and unavailability meant a number of significant changes for Andover, who gave league debuts to youngsters Charlie Deavall, Jack Cooper and Harrison Pape and had many players playing out of position.
Andover did field a huge front five and dominated at scrum time throughout, but that was really the only area they had a lot of joy, as they were outplayed throughout by the well organised hosts.
The game began badly for Andover when after just three minutes Twickenham scored a converted try from a blatantly forward pass.
Andover responded and a splendid break from Ioan Gwynne Davies gave them a penalty chance well taken by Rich Retallick.
Then came a moment that drew cheers from the home crowd, as giant prop carl Sievewright took a short lineout and dummied the scrum half to make a fine break as Andover pressed again.
Minutes later Retallick struck a post with a further penalty and as Twickenham raced clear with the loose ball, Deavall superbly ripped the ball in defence to deny them.
Andover broke again, but as the hosts cleared with a kick, a poor pass in defence gave them an easy try scoring chance.
Andover tried to respond when perhaps a period of keeping the ball was required and Twickenham pounced on a number of errors, to put the game out of sight with three further tries before the break.
Having lost Kieran Jenvey and Charlie Waite to injury, Andover needed to re organise and as they did Twickenham added a drop goal to increase their lead.
For the next twenty minutes Andover enjoyed a lot of possession and with Nic Reed and Tom Erskine carrying hard made real in roads.
Gwynne Davies and Pape looked assured in attack at half back and suddenly Twickenham looked vulnerable.
Billy Pollard now in the centre terrified his opposite number and Samson Earle carried the attack to the hosts with a number of charges.
In the last quarter though the efforts of trying to claw their way back took their toll and Twickenham re took control.
Despite some sterling efforts in defence, tries came at regular intervals as the large pack tired.
Andover never gave up though still believing a bonus point was possible and when Gwynne Davies raced the length of the pitch for a converted try, they got some consolation.
Encouraged they pushed again and should have scored from a short penalty, but Earle was blatantly body checked before Erskine touched down, only for the try to be disallowed and a penalty awarded to the home side who looked as bemused as Andover.
Twickenham kicked the ball out and Andover were left empty handed.
Afterwards Director of rugby Andy Waite said ‘You have to try and take the positives from every situation and in this game the sheer effort and leadership of skipper Alex Hibidge and the performances of another group of academy graduates are real bonuses.’
‘The top three or four in this league are well in front of the other sides and although we need to look at the amount of points we are conceding, the actual performances with the players we’ve had available have been improved this season and we’ve won more games.’
‘We now have two home games to come and we need to put the last two matches behind us and get back to where we were a month ago.’