News from the 2nd-XV
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Saturday, 6th January 2018
Andover travelled to top of the league Portsmouth for their first game of 2018 looking for the win that would guarantee them a top 4 place in the league.
Portsmouth are a tough physical team so it was always going to be a difficult day at the office but Andover did not help themselves by travelling with just 16 players, two of whom were delayed, meaning they began with only 14 men.
Some weak tackling led to Pompey taking the lead fairly quickly but Andover then woke up a little. Back to 15 Andover started to get into the game before a yellow card reduced them again.
Despite this Andover continued to look dangerous in attack with James Hardiman and Luke Stubbing both impressing at full back and wing respectively. It was this pairing that led to the Hinds sole try when the backs broke through and Hardiman threw an exquisite one-handed behind-the-back pass for Stubbings to score.
Pompey scored twice more, including one dubious effort but Andover were far from out of the game with a good defensive display.
Unfortunately Andover lost stalwart David Catt to an injured ankle shortly before half time and were unlucky when Alex Arter hacked through a loose ball for a try that was disallowed.
Going into half time Andover were only 2 tries behind went into the second half with a renewed determination but Portsmouth responded with 2 quick tries to put Andover under even more pressure.
To make things worse Josh Gibbs, suffered a nasty blow to the ribs and also had to come off, leaving Andover down to 14 men for much of the second half.
This forced Callum Farr to move to 10 while Arter covered brilliantly at 9.
You cannot win every game, but can learn something every time you play. The Hinds therefore decided to make the most from the rest of time on the clock by focussing on the defence.
Captain Dougie Searle asked every player to do something exceptional in the last 30 minutes and every one of the Hinds rose to the challenge. Farr, Arter and Joe Newell all put in a number of crunching tackles as the Andover defence became its most effective to make Portsmouth work very hard for their next try.
Karl Atherton shrugged off a nasty blow above the eye to continue another gutsy performance and Charlie Duvall was a consistent pair of hands in the lineout; the youngster even briefly covered in the second row in the first half.
All in all a heavy defeat but a brave performance from a very spirited Andover side.