IT WAS a case of deja vu for Oakwood sponsored Andover RFC as once again a poor first half period was unable to be rescued by a brave second half comeback, as they lost 27-15 at Old Whitgiftian.

Andover made the 80-mile journey to Croydon ravaged by injury and unavailability and although the players who came in stood up and played with great passion, in the end it was not enough as Andover crashed to a worrying third straight defeat.

Arriving late Andover were still getting the journey out of their legs when Whitgift struck with an early try.

From then on the visitors looked steady, creating pressure and some good opportunities.

After 20 minutes the pressure told and after great work by Josh Gibbs, Callum Farr fed Ioan Gwynne Davies who finished neatly to level the scores.

For the next 10 minutes Andover continued to press but when Whitgift turned the ball over, a big missed tackle allowed them to score a breakaway try.

Andover then suffered the blow of losing key man Tom Waite to a leg injury and suddenly the defence crumbled.

Two tries followed that were both very preventable and as the break approached Whitgift looked in complete control.

At half time, Andover reorganised as Farr succumbed to injury, Gwynne Davies reverted to the scrum half spot, James Byrne switched to back row and youngster CJ Feirn to the centre.

The difference for the All Blacks was instant.

Although Whitgift added a penalty just after the break it was all Andover from then on.

The visitors began to dominate up front especially at scrum time where Sam Earle was in fine form and when from a quick penalty Gwynne Davies was cynically fouled, a yellow card was issued but crucially not a penalty try and the chance went begging.

Andover hammered away, but dropped passes and wrong options cost them scores and it took a further 20 minutes to narrow the gap.

From another short scrum, Ali Donnan struck against the head and James Smith finally went over for a try.

With 15 to go Andover threw everything they had at Whitgift with skipper Alex Hibdige and wing Tyler Gabriel both going very close.

Whitgift kept the door shut for crucial minutes, but with five minutes left, a long miss pass from veteran stand off Paul Gilbert was superbly held by Feirn who went over for a score that gave Andover real hope.

From the kick off the impressive Conor Green roared forward and as his side went through the phases another score seemed inevitable.

Josh Gibbs and Dave Catt combined to set up a great position, but just as Whitgift cracked a vital pass was dropped and it was all over for the All Blacks.

Afterwards director of rugby Andy Waite said: "It's very disappointing that we didn't get something from the game as we fought back so well in the second half and deserved at least bonus points.

"But in the end we gave ourselves too much to do after a poor half and we didn't quite have the quality to execute our chances.

"Yes we had a much changed side, but I can't fault the attitude of the players who played, summed up by man of the match performances from the oldest player, third team stalwart Paul Gilbert, making his first team debut at 40 and the youngest player CJ Feirn who was everywhere and gave everything. We need some of the players who weren't there to learn from their efforts and show more desire going forwards."