Overton 12 Andover 29.
In a local derby not for the faint hearted Oakwood sponsored Andover overcame the challenge of league new boys Overton at Laverstoke last Saturday.
It promised to be a tough and uncompromising fixture and that was the case but both sides tried to play rugby and with the help of some good refereeing from Geoff Paice produced a fine game for the large crowd to enjoy.
Andover in particular played some classy stuff at times and although they were always in control of this encounter Overton never gave up and showed that they do not plan to be anyone’s whipping boys.
In truth Andover had the edge in class in almost every position but with partnerships still forming amongst the new players in the side, they lacked a bit of cohesion at times as Overton pressed hard especially in midfield.
Andover once again dominated scrum and lineout and after just five minutes hooker Tom Waite struck against the head for Marc Wilding to feed stand-off Jack Stott for the first try. The next ten minutes, although a little frantic, saw Andover press hard and soon a fantastic Stott break gave James Dawson the chance to feed Dave Catt to score in the corner.
Overton tried to respond but Andover were dominating set play and were quicker to the breakdown, shutting their opponents out of the game. Waite, Simon Preece and the impressive Nic Reed were bursting big holes in the Overton midfield and soon they cracked again.
From another scrum against the head Stott was once again on hand to finish neatly and as man of the match scrum half Andy Franklin converted, it seemed a mountain to climb for Overton.
They rallied well however and came at Andover before half-time with a sustained attack.
Skipper Alex Morgan and Wilding marshalled the defence superbly and in the centre Niko Rowe, returning to his home club this season, was in utterly uncompromising mood, putting in a couple of smashing try saving tackles to protect the lead.
In the second half Andover began sluggishly, but gradually forced Overton back and should have put the game out of sight.
They missed two guilt edged chances to score from short scrums then Tom Barrington intercepted and raced the length of the field to cut the deficit.
Andover brought on the fresh legs of young Ash Gait and after ten minutes of midfield stalemate they finally got the bonus point try that made the game safe.
From a lineout catch and drive Tim Smith raced to the line and fed Rowe who stretched powerfully over. Andover were still not done however and soon after prop Nic Reed caught a stray kick in midfield and showed power and pace that any centre would have been proud, of to run fifty metres for a fantastic try.
Franklin converted to complete the Andover scoring before Overton showed the spirit they have Simon Rainbow grabbed a fine late try near the end.
Andover coach Andy Waite was happy with the performance ‘This was a tough away game which was often our undoing last season.’ He said ‘We were always in control and we showed that once some of our new players gel there is a lot more to come.’ ‘Overton were very difficult opposition but we stuck to what we know we are good at and fully deserved the win. We have another tough away game at Farnborough this week before welcoming league favourites Fordingbridge, so we know this is just a promising start.
More reports and pictures from Andover RFC in a full page of rugby in Friday's Advertiser