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Sunday, 25th March 2018
Andover Colts v Marlborough
A short trip over the border into Wiltshire provided the Basepoint sponsored 'All Blacks' with their first close encounter for a while.
Andover have been on the receiving end of a good few points in recent fixtures and it made a refreshing change to get a competitive fixture.
The match was split into three periods and from the off both teams seemed to be well matched. Andover started brightly and took the game to the home side, but Marlborough dominated the breakdown and numerous opportunities went begging in the opening exchanges. Andover also seemed to get on the wrong side of the referee in this section too and conceded several penalties due to the tackle interpretation. Eventually, the deadlock was broken on 18 minutes by Gabe Williams, who poached an interception and then showed the opposition a clean pair of heels all the way to the line. Joe Joy converted from under the posts to make it 7-0 to Andover and this is how it remained until the break.
The second period saw Andover play up the slope and into the wind. Marlborough hit back with two tries of their own to take the lead, both of which were converted, before Andover replied with one of their own; Alex Arter capitalising from good breaks by Jake Dixon and Alfie Appleton before crashing over from close range.
With the score 14-12 at the final break, it was all to play for. Despite a consolation score for Andover, courtesy of Ronan Walker at the end of the match, the game unfortunately seemed to slip away from the visitors, on many occasions against the run of play. Marlborough scored three tries, one a well worked effort with good support play which capitalised on missed tackles, but the other two came from an interception and the final one a breakaway from their own 22 when Andover were putting them under pressure deep in their own territory.
From an external point of view, a final score of 35-17 will look like another heavy defeat for Andover, but it was far from it. Good performances from Clayton Burke, JD and John Hair, a dominant scrum, lots of possession and territory and a match that was competitive throughout are all positives Andover should take away.
Looking after the ball in contact, better decision making and winning their own ball at the lineout are things to work on for the remaining fixtures this season.
After the Easter break, they host Trojans in the final Hampshire league fixture before a last friendly or two and the annual Alton 7's tournament.