News from the 1st-XV
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Saturday, 22nd September 2018
Andover 26 Portsmouth 22
Oakwood sponsored Andover finally got their season up and running with a hard- fought win over Petersfield at the Goodship ground last Saturday.
Andover once again made it hard for themselves by conceding a couple of easily preventable scores but stuck to their game plan and eventually wore the visitors down.
Playing up the slope in the first half Andover began strongly using their pack to full advantage.
With a dominant scrum and man of the match James Smith ruling the lineout, Andover had an endless supply of ball, but frustratingly dropped passes and some loose options prevented them crossing the whitewash.
Andover did take the lead after quarter of an hour through a Josh Gibbs penalty but almost immediately their first piece of charity handed the lead to the visitors.
It was a familiar story, but this time Andover kept their shape and with Callum Farr keeping things tight at scrum half Andover began to make inroads.
The hard running of Nic Reed and Tom Waite was proving very effective and with Carl Sievewright, James Monck and skipper Alex Hibdige providing real physical presence around the fringes Andover slowly turned the screw.
Gibbs struck another penalty and Petersfield seemed to be wilting but Andover again couldn’t make the dominance tell and the visitors kicked a penalty of their own to lead 10-6 at the break.
Almost immediately after half time, some comedy defending allowed Petersfield to extend their league and the writing once again looked to be on the wall for Andover.
To their credit the ‘All Blacks’ picked themselves up and with Billy Pollard and Evan Roll impressing once again were on the front foot.
Gibbs again cut arrears with a penalty and then from a short scrum, Andover broke the visitors apart and Waite pounced on the loose ball to score.
The home side smelt blood and soon had the visitor’s line under pressure again.
From a catch and drive they went close but stayed patient and after a series of phases young flanker Alistair Donan burrowed over to give Andover a lead.
Petersfield to their credit gave it another shot and with just ten minutes left stunned Andover with their best score of the game after a lovely back move from a short scrum.
Andover not to be out done roared back and for the rest of the game had Petersfield under the cosh.
With five minutes to go Andover were held up over the line and from the resultant scrum Smith went over to send the large home crowd wild. Gibbs converted to cap a fine afternoon for the full back and Andover edged clear.
Petersfield could still have won, so Andover had a decision to make and ever adventurous they decided to go for the bonus point try.
From a lineout however Nic Reed was adjudged to have gone to soon when certain to score and the visitors had the ball back.
They too decided not to settle for a point, but crucially missed touch with a penalty before Andover decided to take what they had and Callum Farr put the ball in to touch for the four-point win.
Afterwards director of rugby Andy Waite was happy with the win.
‘This is going to be a tough season and, in the end, grinding out a win like this is vitally important.’
‘We have a whole set of backs missing at the moment, so things are tough but the lads who played to day really stood up.
The likes of Harry Phillips stepping up from the seconds for his first ever first team game and Dan Farr standing in at fly half epitomised the attitude and we know we are going to get better.’