IN AN extraordinary game of rugby, Oakwood sponsored Andover grabbed a valuable bonus point on the road at high flying Portsmouth last Saturday, staging an incredible comeback as the hosts lost their cool even if they won 36-24.

An Andover side ravaged by injury and unavailability made the journey south, but as is often the case, one persons absence is another's opportunity, as new boy Harry Batt impressed in the back row, and youngster Harry Scobie stepped up from the academy, to put in a performance of some maturity in midfield.

The sheer number of changes had Andover in disarray early on, and as they tried to organise, the game started badly.

Portsmouth were straight out of the blocks and in just fifteen minutes they were three tries to the good and looking like they might run up a cricket score.

Skipper Alex Hibdige rallied his troops however and as Andover began to make inroads Portsmouth immediately began to lose their cool.

Carl Sievewright was dominating his opposite number at scrum time and after some hard running at the fringes by the excellent Jake Dixon and Conor Green, the first of several yellow cards was shown to the home side.

Undeterred Portsmouth swiftly scored again on the break, but there was a sense that Andover were now in the game.

Tom Waite, back from injury and Wayne Jones began to run hard at the Portsmouth defence and after a set of phases scrum half Ioan Gwynne Davies dived over for a good score.

Despite the improvement Andover conceded again and with skipper Hibdige in the bin at 29-5 the game looked over.

Andover rallied again though and Alex Arter twice went close out wide to give them a glimmer of hope.

Then just before the break, after tremendous pressure, Andover once again got themselves back in the hunt.

Waite grabbed a free kick and set off on a barreling run to score a lovely try converted by Rich Rettalick.

After this second try, the message at half time was to go all out for the bonus point.

With wind at their backs Andover felt confident, but Portsmouth soon set them back again with their final try of the game from a catch and drive.

From then on it was all Andover.

Josh Gibbs and Harrison Pape pinned Portsmouth back with intelligent kicking and the forwards really got on top.

The home sides lack of discipline under pressure had their own fans perplexed, but Andover could sense a chance to really have a go and the first of two red cards soon followed for Portsmouth.

The lively Ali Donnan then narrowed the gap with a neat try through the middle of a ruck converted again by Rettalick.

With Sam Earle and Harry Phillips adding fresh legs up front, Andover turned the screw at scrum time and another red card saw the home side reduced to thirteen.

With gaps in the home defence and another try needed, Andover wasted time in a forwards arm wrestle they didn't need and it looked like they would end up empty handed.

Even another yellow card for Portsmouth didn't bring the break through.

With the last play of the game though, Pape put Tyler Gabriel into space and as the winger was halted by a high tackle, skipper Hibdige dived over for the vital score.

Afterwards Director of Rugby Andy Waite was upbeat 'I think if you'd have asked this morning we'd have happily taken a bonus point from this game so we have to fairly happy. The way it went in the second half though, I think we actually could have got more from it if we'd been tactically a bit better. I take my hat off to the effort from the boys today, we had a very young side who stood up and battled a very big physical side and in the end they got their reward.'