ANDOVER RFC

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Saturday, 29th September 2018

Andover’s 3XV travelled to Portsmouth on 29/09/18 looking for a turn around from the previous week’s shutout loss against Millbrook. With a bare 15 and a few new faces, the team hit the road in a positive mood looking for that elusive away win.
As is 3s rugby, there were a few enforced positional changes, most notably veteran hooker Bert Baxter pulling on the 9 jersey in the absence of any recognized scrum half. There was also a senior rugby debut for Sam Dougherty – both would play an important part in the game.
Andover chose to kick off and from the first whistle it was clear that there was real intent to right the errors from last week. The forward pack looked a strong unit; led by veterans Heggie and Bissell, the front eight made in-roads into the Portsmouth half. A penalty at the breakdown gave Andover the chance to kick for touch. From the ensuing lineout, which were dominated all day by flanker Lee Cupples, Andover set a driving maul – a weapon that would be too strong for Pompy all day – and marched into the oppositions 22. In a bizarre turn of events, the maul split with both sides believing the ball was still in the main section. This gave number 8 Corney an easy run in for the first try of the game, convert by Reilly.
Andover’s second try was to follow shortly after. This time it was the backs who made the initial in-roads. Following another won set piece, the backs combined well down the short side – Reilly, Dawkins and fellow centre Rees took the ball into the opposition’s red zone. The ball was quickly recycled by the pack, Bissell arriving first, and after a few short rumbles by the fowards, the ball was released to Rees, who powered over for Andover’s second try, again converted by Reilly.
The game ebbed and flowed, with both sides defending sternly and it was a clearing kick that led to Portsmouth’s’ first try. A miscue by the opposition saw the ball head across field where an unlucky bounce saw the ball evade winger Ward – instead it was collected by his opposite number who had an unimpeded 50m run to the try line. This left the score at 14-5 to Andover at the turn.
At the turn, Portsmouth rolled on a couple of substitutes and these fresh legs added some impetus to their side. At the kick off to the second half, Andover allowed the ball to bounce and it was collected up by the Pompy forwards. They pick and drove repeatedly and eventually got themselves over the line. 14-10. This was shortly followed by a second Portsmouth try – this time a kick over the top took a very friendly home team bounce, allowing the chasing winger a clear run to the line. The conversion under the sticks was missed, leaving Andover trailing by 1, 14-15.
Andover regrouped and again fronted up in defense. In the line out, debutant Dougherty continued to disrupt the opponent’s line out and Andover started to turn the screw. The pack tightened up and utilized the pick and go effectively – starving Portsmouth of possession. This led to infringements at the rucks, allowing Reilly to place Andover in good positions to deploy their strike weapon – the driving maul – which was the source of the next two tries.
The first came from a lineout 15m from the Portsmouth line. With the lineout cleanly won, the drive was set and with scrum half Baxter steering his forwards, they rumbled towards the line. As they neared the line, Baxter added his own weight to the drive, taking the ball and dropping over the line for the score. 19-15.
The next came from the other side of the pitch – again tight forward play led to an Andover penalty. The kick placed Andover 10m from the line and again the driving maul proved to strong for Portsmouth. This time it was captain Corney collecting his second try of the game. 24-15.
Andover’s defense held firm as Portsmouth tried to come back. Solid hits from Dawkins and Lucker in the mid-field ensured there was no way through for the opposition and it wasn’t long before Andover were down in the Pompy 22 again. With no answer to the Andover maul, Pompy repeated infringed leading to a yellow card. Following another penalty, Corney took a quick tap 5m from the line and rolled over untouched, completing his hat-trick for the day.
Final score 29-15.

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