News from the 3rd XV

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Saturday, 17th January 2015

Andover 17 - 12 Basingstoke Cavaliers 

Andover 3s were in action at the Goodship last Saturday in what was to be another epic performance against local rivals Basingstoke.

The Fighting Falcons sponsored 3rd team were in no doubt that a complete team performance would be needed to outsmart their opponents and with the loss of their talisman and skipper Dan Gillan from a reoccurring injury it was the equally experienced Hooker Bert Baxter who took the reins.

From the off the home side showed they were not going to be intimidated by the visitors heavier pack and ploughed into Basingstoke regaining possession and making their way deep into opponents 22 within minutes. Stoke soaked up the pressure well and showed how dangerous they are coming back at Andover with their impressive scrum and fly half cutting through Andovers defence. With an infringement at the breakdown Stoke were awarded a penalty in front of the posts but missed a golden opportunity to take an early lead.

The visitors continued to pile on the pressure and using their bigger forwards drove their way over from a line out to take the lead with a converted try.

Andover came back strong and with the front five dominant in the scrums they again found themselves inside the Stoke 22 but the visitors continued to soaked up the pressure and with the massive boot of their talented fly half a clearance kick found its way over the home sides try line and with miscommunication from Andover allowed their speedy winger to pounce on the ball for a further five points.

The All Blacks regrouped and with calming words from the experienced Baxter the home side again attacked with a cool ferocity, with number 8 Scott Bradbury bulldozing his way through the visitors defence despite losing his boot in the process still managed to smash his way through the last two tackles to put Andover on the board with man of the match Mike Graham adding the extras reducing the gap to five points going into the break.

Making several changes for the second half did nothing to disrupt Andovers game plan as they continued to pile the pressure on, with ten minutes gone it was Fijian Vitu who for the third time in 2 games showed his pace to cross over and touch down bringing Andover level on the scoreboard.

Basingstokes desperate attempts to break the home sides defence with what little possession they had only resulted in injury to 2 of their key players, reducing them to 14 players with 15 minutes to go. Scrum Half Tim Gibbs made a superb break covering 50 meters but could not find the finishing pass to Vitu with the clock ticking and the score level.

Stoke managed to creep back into Andover territory and were awarded a series of penalties but with no one to kick at goal their options were limited.

With 2 minutes to go the impressive stand off Paul Gilbert broke on the half way line dummying to defenders and taking the Stoke fullback across the line to give Andover the lead and the game in a well deserved win.

With quality spreading throughout the clubs senior teams it shows that the ideas of the coaching staff are penetrating all three teams with the 3's now on a five game winning streak, 3 of those games coming from behind.


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