News from the 1st-XV
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Saturday, 27th January 2018
Exiles 25 Andover 30
In a never say die display, Oakwood sponsored Andover grabbed a vital if unlikely five point win away to London Exiles last weekend.
Once again having to come from behind, a cobbled together Andover side produced a brilliant second half performance, to overcome their old rivals in atrocious conditions and once again it was the young 'All Blacks' who stole the headlines.
Two tries from Fin Waite and one from fellow 18 year old flanker Alex Arter, his first for the first team, clawed Andover back into the game, after a dogged first half defensive display had kept them in touch with their West London hosts.
Andover travelled with just sixteen players, with several out of position and several second team regulars in the squad and kicked off against howling wind and rain on a very muddy pitch.
Exiles pressed immediately, but Andover stood firm with new boy Fraser Davison and Tom Waite tackling like demons on the fringes.
Billy Pollard and Dave Catt were equally solid in midfield and as Exiles tried to kick long, Josh Gibbs returned well with his big boot.
Andover grew in confidence and soon got their big runners Nic Reed and Tom Erskine on the ball, with Erskine also impressing in the lineout.
Prompted by the excellent Callum Farr at scrum half, Andover marched up the pitch and had Exiles under real pressure.
After twenty minutes the hosts finally got on the board with a penalty and in the second quarter manged two tries to edge into a fifteen point lead.
Normally this would seem a lot, but in these conditions Andover felt they were still right in the game and this feeling was boosted further when on the stroke of half time Arter took a beautiful offload from man of the match Sam Earle to score a lovely try converted by Retallick.
After the break with wind at their back Andover poured forwards and Retallick soon reduced arrears further with a penalty after Ross Kier had gone close.
Five minutes later from a huge Gibbs defensive kick, skipper Alex Hibidge pounced on a defensive error and hacked the ball through for Arter to chase and as he further hacked to the corner, Fin Waite out sprinted the Exiles cover to score.
Now level, Andover seemed to relax and soon paid the price, as Exiles scored two further tries to grab a bonus point and what looked like a winning lead with just ten minutes to go.
The Andover pack had other ideas and won a penalty from an incredible scrum in midfield. From the resulting lineout, the ball was fed to Earle and once again the big prop's deft handling was too much for Exiles, putting Fin Waite in for a superb score.
Again level there was to be no let up from Andover this time.
With two minutes to go Earle led the charge again, but knocked on just before the line.
The home side breathed a sigh of relief as they seemed to have survived for the draw, but Dean Andrew struck against the head and the Andover pack drove powerfully forwards for Tom Waite to grab the winning try.
After the game Director of rugby Andy Waite was full of praise for his side.
'Sometimes in sport people seem to find something extra to overcome adversity and today was one of those.
I take my hat off to the players for dragging out a hugely important win against the odds and especially Sam Earle and the younger lads who were incredible.
Youngsters like Charlie Deavall who made the trip to bench despite a hip injury and in the end played for twenty minutes to make sure we stayed at full strength making a real difference.