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Wednesday, 3rd May 2017
Colts sign off season at Alton 7's
On the last weekend of the season, Andover Colts sponsored by Basepoint Business Centre travelled to Alton to take part in the annual 7's tournament. For three of the Under 18 players this was the end of an era as it is the last time they will pull on an Andover shirt for the junior section of the club and the day was especially poignant for Alton as the club were collecting money for St. Michael's Hospice who cared for Paul Cantoni (one of their stalwarts) in his last weeks before his passing a couple of months ago.
The day started with a photo of the silly socks the boys were wearing and a whip round to go in the charity buckets. The generous donations by all were topped off by Alastair Moffat, who pledged £1 for every point scored by the boys today and a bonus of £2 for every point against Racing Academy, who won the tournament last year. Alastair was particularly moved by the charity as his own wife was cared for by Countess of Brecknock Hospice in her last weeks a few years ago. The boys also wore the shirts Alastair bought for the club to play in.
The colts were all placed in one pool of five teams, with Alton A, Alton B, Basingstoke and Racing academy all joining Andover in the round robin competition.
The first match was against Alton A, the current Hampshire League 1 champions. The match started well with Ioan Gwynne Davies scoring a brace of tries in the first half one converted by Joe Joy to take a 12-7 lead into the half time break. Unfortunately, these were to be the only scores for the 'All Blacks' and the match was lost 12-29.
In the second game Andover faced Alton B. Unlike the first match Andover started slowly going two tries behind. However, they turned the match on its head and scored five tries (Alex Arter, JJ Thomas, John Hair and two from Ben Reed) and four conversions (Joe Joy, Ben Reed (2) and Lewis Reed) to take the game beyond the hosts and earn a well deserved 33-17 victory.
Match 3 saw Andover face Basingstoke, who also played in league 1 this season.
Andover started well and despite Basingstoke being a physical side, the 'All Blacks' always had the edge, particularly in handling and pace and they put this to good effect to win 36-12. Tries came from JJ Thomas, Ioan Gwynne Davies, Ben Reed (2), Joe Joy and Jack Moffat and successful conversions were kicked by JJ Thomas, Ioan Gwynne Davies and Lewis Reed.
The final pool game saw Andover face Racing Academy, who had put all to the sword before them all morning and prior to this game had only conceded one try.
Andover were up for the challenge and played really well. Their organisation and structure were particularly effective. They limited opportunities but Racing were extremely patient and capitalised on any mistakes. Despite a 45-5 loss Andover eventually scored a well deserved try in the second half. Ben Reed making a lovely break before feeding Gabe Williams to score.
The play off stages saw Andover face Basingstoke for the plate final and Alton A face Racing for the main final.
As expected Racing beat Alton comfortably on the other pitch, but Andover enjoyed another competitive match against their local rivals.
Andover started the final well. The first half saw the Reed brothers score a try apiece and Ioan Gwynne Davies scored a brace of tries, kindly donating a third one to 'mini reed' which prevented a hat trick in the final. All four of them converted their own tries.
The second half saw a bit of a comeback from Basingstoke, but Gabe Williams finished the job with a lovely step and length of the pitch run to score the final try. The final score was 33-20.
The final result was a third place overall for Andover which was probably about where we would have finished on paper and was on reflection a good result.
All the lads played well and most got on the scoresheet. Those that didn't make it, contributed to the cause through good running, handling, tackling, rucking and general good team play and the tournament was a great way to finish the season.
Alaistair was true to his word. The colts scored 119 points across the tournament, including one try against Racing, which meant £124 was donated to the charity. Alastair rounded this up to £150 and with the Gift Aid donation a significant sum will be donated to St. Michael's Hospice in memory of Paul which I'm sure will be appreciated by all.
Before signing off, I'd just like to thank all the 36 colts, the parents, fellow coaches and manager (Simon, Hendry and Steve) our sponsors, Peter Baughen for the match reports and Simon Arter / Anthony Trowers for the photos. In addition to these the club staff and referees have all contributed to making the whole season extremely enjoyable and a pleasure to be involved with.
Well done to Jack Potter for his Somerset County honours and Tom Cox for gaining his Hampshire Referees Society Jersey too.
As lots of the colts move on to pastures new next year, I hope they will look back at their time with the club with fond memories and if they are still around Andover in years to come will pull on the All Black Jersey once more.