News from the 1st-XV
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Saturday, 17th March 2018
Andover 7 Eastleigh 29
Oakwood sponsored Andover plunged back into the murky depths of a relegation battle last Saturday with a disappointing performance at home to fellow strugglers Eastleigh.
Although still in the driving seat to survive, Andover must now win at least one of their final three games to have any chance and on this form that will be a tall order.
On a cold windy day, with snow blasting across the Goodship ground it was no day for the faint hearted, but it was the visiting 'pirates' as they are nicknamed, who showed the greater will to win.
Andover will point to some key refereeing decisions that went against them that didn't help their cause, but in the end it was their own ineptness with ball in hand that cost them the game.
Playing up the slope and against the biting wind in the first half Andover began well, but wasted the first opportunity almost straight away with a forward pass.
Eastleigh came back but Andover seemed to be defending with no problem, until an error saw Eastleigh break and run in a try against the run of play.
That set the pattern for much of the game as Andover enjoyed plenty of possession through their big pack, well lead by stand in skipper Tom Erskine, but did precious little with it.
The game settled and with half an hour gone against the elements Andover were confident, but suddenly the game turned against them.
Tom Waite was harshly yellow carded for a no arm tackle and without his robust presence Eastleigh took full advantage.
Scrummaging well with just seven forwards, the powerful Andover front row of Carl Sievewright, Sam Earle and Nic Reed looked to have weathered the storm for their side , but once again personal errors cost them dear.
First a poor defensive kick invited Eastleigh forwards and they needed no second bidding to score and soon after a lapse of concentration at the breakdown gifted the visitors the most easy of tries before half time.
Not for the first time at home this season, Andover found themselves chasing the game after the break.
They needed a quick reply, but time and again they were thwarted by a mixture of poor execution and bad luck.
When they did break free Kieran Jenvey set Callum Farr away to score, but he was hauled back by the referee for a forward pass decision, only the official can explain.
Andover continued to press and thought they'd scored again through Jenvey at a ruck, but once again the referee ruled against the home team and awarded Eastleigh a penalty for a double movement.
The visitors could scarcely believe their luck, but minutes later they did finally succumb, as Tom Waite crashed over from a short scrum with Rich Retallick converting.
Andover pressed forwards hoping another quick score would give them a real chance, but as they created gaps and overlaps they simply failed to exploit them, as the ball rarely got past the inside channels, much to the frustration of Charlie Waite and the returning Evan Roll and Iaon Gwynne Davies, who were all queuing up to score.
Even the short scrum did not yield points as Andover failed to control the ball properly and with just five minutes left the visitors put Andover out of their misery with two late tries to seal the game.
Afterwards Director of rugby Andy Waite said ' I'm not pulling any punches we were poor today and the players know it.'
'We trained well in the week and prepared properly so I have no excuses. They were fighting for their lives, whilst we were at times ambling and lacking concentration and when teams are fairly even in standard, there will only be one winner in that scenario.'
'There's no point feeling sorry for ourselves we have to pick ourselves up and do better next week at home to Twickenham.'