Danny Gillan’s 3s were looking to pick themselves up after a 37 – 12, home defeat against Portsmouth 2s the previous week.
Having a strong team at his disposal and Alresford traveling with a bare 15, Andover felt the numerical advantage would make it an easy afternoon, Alresford had other ideas. It was the visitors that started with a real purpose, making the home team defend in their own half for much of the first 20 minutes until the Andover defence finally caved in, allowing Alresford to score the first try of the game, which they converted.
From Gilberts restart it was the Andover Capt, Corney who lead the line, hitting their lock upon receiving the ball and forcing the turn over and putting Andover on the front foot. Following 3 to 4 phases from the forwards, Scrum half Mitchel (The Sniper) released Hardiman who’s run and clever offload allowed Gilbert (Bulldozer FlyHalf) to use his strength and speed for Andover’s first try of the afternoon reducing the deficit to 5-7.
With Andover now finally waking up, Corney received the ball from Alresfords kick off and his strong running reminded the visiting pack the importance on going low in the tackle as he bounced them off(for most of the afternoon) before going to ground closely supported by the Andover pack who continued the hard lines as Hywel, Gibbs, Janes and Mcgill battered the visitors defence, breaking them down like the berlin wall. With the home side now dominating possession, it was a moment of genius and quick thinking from no7 Dawkins that found Gilbert, who repaid the favour and let Hardiman skilfully go on one of his darting runs for try No2(Converted) for Andover to lead 12-5 at the interval.
The second half started with the same intensity the first finished with, more big hits/runs from McGill, Dawkins, Dixon (Debutant), Gibbs and Hywel, was equally met by the physical Alresford pack.
It was a thrilling encounter that had it all, injuries (Gundry and Vanandel), ill-discipline in the tackle, flair and brutality, Andover’s MotM Jody Morgan responsible for most! Destroying the visitors 9 an 10, hitting hard crash lines and being a constant nuisance all afternoon, Alresford simply had no answer for him! And had it not been the rapid response of the subs with the emergency deep heat, he would’ve completed 74mins! What a player to have.
With the visitors absorbing the pressure Andover’s forwards were putting on them, it very nearly paid off with Butcher going over the line from the back of a strong Andover maul only to be poleaxed into touch by the visitors no8! A very close call by the reff, by the right one as we did have a TMO! It was again time to turn the screw on the visitors and release the backs. Some intelligent rugby and strong running from Smith, McDonald, Gundry and Vanandel, Andover looked to be in firm Control. The pressure finally paid off midway through the second half; a quick penalty from the impressive Dawkins passed to Corney saw the blacks Capt power over the line for try no3, 17-07. The game was finally secured when once again, Hardiman found space to use his blistering pace to ensure a 22-7 final score for Andover.
Special mention for Lucas, once again found himself playing for the opposition to compensate for their injuries, a fantastic attitude from a young player with a bright future at the club. Thank you.