Andover 18 Army Air Corps 20.

After an intense summer season programme Oakwood sponsored Andover produced a display of passion and power that almost overcame the challenge of a much fancied Army Air Corps team in their final pre-season warm up game at the Goodship Ground last Saturday.

The visitors boasted a large Fijian contingent and many other senior players who had travelled from all over the country for this game and must have felt that they would have too much fire power for the home side.

But they reckoned without a group of players who have grown in stature over recent months and found themselves embroiled in a contest that they could scarcely have imagined and which led to a fantastic game of rugby.

Andover, despite having a front five shorn of several regulars, dominated the set plays throughout, with Andy Dawkins and Sam Earle proving able replacements in the front row and Alex Hibidge doing superbly out of position in the second row.

Hooker Tom Waite relishing in the new laws took scrum ball at will and at the lineout Marc Wilding and returning skipper Alex Morgan were imperious.

With this platform Andover were able to starve Air Corps of quality possession from set play and in the loose the sheer ferocity of Andover’s work at the breakdown shocked the visitors.

Jack Stott, Dave Catt and James Dawson tackled like demons and with Waite, Morgan, youngster Ash Gait and Simon Preece in awesome form over the ball, Air Corps struggled to make headway.

So impressive were Andover that they really should have won this game and only a couple of errors and a bit of bad luck prevented a comprehensive victory.

Air corps took a 20th minute lead from a penalty, soon levelled by Rich Rettalick after a late tackle on Catt that saw him eventually leave with injury.

Full report on this game as well as the Thirds and U16 plus pictures in Friday's Advertiser.