A THRILLING thrilling encounter, saw the Oakwood sponsored Andover gained their first win over the London Exiles at the Goodship, after four years of trying with a 23-21 success.

These two sides always serve up real humdingers with their clashing styles and this was no different as the lead swung one way then the other.

Andover believe they are improving and looking more comfortable at this level and its games like this against solid mid table opposition that provide the evidence.

‘Last year we got our first point against Exiles but lost, this season we have taken another step and managed a narrow win.’ Said Director of Rugby Andy Waite.

‘We have a string of games against clubs in similar positions coming up and the challenge for us now is to sustain this form and keep progressing.’ Andover in truth started poorly and Exiles stunned them with a well taken early try after slack Andover tackling.

Exiles sensed blood having blown Andover away with four early tries last year, but Andover were having none of it this time and with Jack Stott marshalling the drift defence Exiles could not break through again.

Andover gradually felt their way into the game behind a powerful scrum and the hard running of Nic Reed, Tom Waite Billy Pollard and Tom Erskine.

With Ollie Lindridge dominating the lineout much more than of late, Andover began to enjoy the lion’s share of possession.

Exiles were forced to kick repeatedly to clear their lines but found Andover’s impressive full back Charlie Waite in fine form and he simply ran back everything with interest.

Niko Rowe and Evan Roll look a real developing partnership in midfield and on the half hour this pair continued a great Charlie Waite counter, with a stunning piece of interplay before sending Stott over for a fantastic try in the corner.

With their tails up Andover piled on the pressure but despite a number of penalties and scrums, couldn’t find the finish.

Just before the break however they did in the unlikeliest of ways.

Roll, Rowe and Stott once again tore through the exiles defence with some lovely interplay and from a ruck close to the line, it was full back Waite who picked up and burrowed over for a try any of the forwards would have been proud of.

Playing the second half up the slope with a strong breeze at their back Andover should have been in the driving seat, but once again a slack start to the half undid much of the good work as Exiles scored a second try.

Andover came back quickly this time however, smashing into a tiring exiles pack and gaining good field position with the boot.

From a lineout Andover went close and as Exiles transgressed Andover elected to scrum in front of the posts.

The front row of James Monck, Reed and skipper Alex Hibidge licked their lips and tucked in, giving Simon Preece the chance to touch down for a try converted by Charlie Waite.

Andover were back in the lead and when soon after Waite added a penalty after great work from brother Tom was halted illegally, Andover began to breath more easily.

Crucially though Waite hit the post with another effort minutes later and Exiles soon took advantage of the let off.

With just five minutes left they punished a rare piece of disorganisation out wide with a try under the posts to seemingly break the hearts of the home crowd.

The players however had other ideas.

The forwards took the ball and drove phase after phase upfield. Exiles transgressed and Waite calmly took the penalty chance to give Andover the narrowest of leads.

From the kick off Andover took the ball in and kept it well, but just before the last play a knock on gave Exiles a final chance.

Attacking from their own twenty-two, they poured forwards but a brilliant steal from Hibdige stopped them in their tracks and as the clock counted down Kieran Jenvey capped another fine display by booting the ball out to give Andover victory.

‘If I’m being honest we should have won this a little more comfortably.’ Said Andy Waite.

‘it was much better overall today, but we still need to be a little more clinical when we have teams on the rack because if you encourage them they will hurt you.’ ‘We worked hard in training this week and it showed, especially up front and that is the way forward for us to keep improving.’