Milbrook 33 Andover 23.

Oakwood sponsored Andover were taught a harsh lesson last Saturday after suffering their first reverse of the season away to a tough Milbrook side.

The hosts, who beat Andover in the Hampshire Shield Final in May staged an unlikely second half comeback and Andover must quickly learn that if they don’t kill good sides off they will hurt them.

Andover were without the experienced Marc Wilding up front and the pack was further disrupted when influential hooker Tom Waite had to leave the field after just 20 minutes with an injury that looks likely to keep him out for a few weeks.

This left Andover looking a little inexperienced in places and in the end that proved to be their undoing.

There was no inkling of what was to come in the first half, as despite being on the wrong end of a stream of penalty and free-kick decisions that were clearly baffling skipper Alex Morgan and his team, they took an early lead and looked so much the better side.

After good lineout work Andover set a ruck in midfield and slick hands gave Dave Catt the chance to score a fine try.

Milbrook came back with a score of their own and soon after added a penalty, but the rest of the half belonged to Andover.

Although their scrum and lineout suffered with the loss of Waite, Andover still had plenty of ball and with so much pace in the side threatened to run riot.

Nic Reed galloped over for a trade mark try from 50 metres and soon after Niko Rowe went over from even further out.

Rich Rettalick converted one to give Andover a healthy 17-8 lead at the break.

Soon after half-time Rettalick extended the lead with a penalty and Andover seemed to be on the way to a win.

However Milbrook made Andover pay for indiscipline and chipped away with a couple of penalties of their own.

Andover then conceded a try from a short scrum to give Milbrook a narrow lead but still looked able to win the game.

Crucially though they missed a couple of guilt edged chance to score and retake the lead and with minutes to go a midfield mix-up saw the home team intercept and race the length of the pitch to score against the run of play.

Andover still refused to give in and a Rettalick penalty put them within a score and a losing bonus point with a penalty.

They pressed desperately but with the last play a clearing kick from the home team was not dealt with and Andover conceded again.

Afterwards coach Andy Waite reflected: ‘ This is going to be a close and hard fought league between the top five or six clubs who are all very good.’ He said.

‘We need to learn quickly to play to our strengths and take points on offer in these tight games and especially never relax and think the job is done.’ ‘It’s not a disaster as this was a tough away game and you would expect to lose the odd one over the season, but we should have won it and not to even get a bonus point was very disappointing.”


Full page of rugby in Friday's Advertiser