ANOTHER solid performance away from home gave Oakwood sponsored Andover their fourth win in succession at United Services Portsmouth last Saturday, as they won 26-10.

Andover were efficient and effective rather than at their best, but it was enough to once again avenge a defeat earlier in the season and finally guarantee mathematical safety from relegation.

Indeed Andover are now sixth in the table and face fifth placed Old Tiffs on March 23, with a chance to climb further, a feat that seemed impossible just two months ago.

Andover have had a great run of form however, adding real defensive solidity to their undoubted power in recent weeks, and can now look forward to spending the rest of the season continuing to develop their young players and honing their new game plan.

Andover began against a strong wind but defended superbly. The early loss of Jack Cooper to injury was a blow, but with Ali Donan and Harry Batt both returning to first team action, the back row remained very effective.

Andover were a little more tentative with the ball in attack, but after fifteen minutes a spell of heavy pressure paid off.

After a series of penalties Andover drove the US pack backwards in the scrum and James Smith touched down for a try converted by Rich Retallick.

Soon after Rettalick was unlucky with a penalty that struck a post after the lively Nic Reed had been high tackled, before US finally used the elements to score a neat try of their own.

With skipper Alex Hibdige in fine form and Tom Waite carrying hard however Andover soon regained the upper hand, but couldn't finish off their chances.

The home side tried to force things, but despite a strong wind at their back they could not gain any territorial superiority, as full back Charlie Waite and Alex Arter once again ran back everything they kicked at them.

When they did make inroads they found an immovable object in defence in the form of man of the match CJ Fiern and Charlie Deaval, and when Hibdige won a superb turnover penalty, the danger was past.

Andover then really turned the screw.

The Andover driving maul was proving to be a real weapon and when Conor Green and Jake Dixon ground one deep into the US red zone, some great interplay between Fiern and Smith saw Dave Catt dive in the corner for a lovely try.

After the break Andover felt confident the floodgates would open and it soon looked like they would be right.

Great work from Reed, Hibdige and Ioan Gwynne Davies, saw the ball flash to Fiern and he need no second bidding to fly over the line with Rettalick converting superbly.

Andover then strangely went off the boil for a while and almost paid a heavy price.

Some loose finishing failed to put the game to bed and US sensed they still had a chance.

They added a second try of their own and soon pressed again before Andover awoke from their slumber.

A great Rettalick turnover and a try saving tackle from Hibidge kept the home side at bay before before Andover finally put them out of their misery.

Josh Gibbs, on for Catt made a good run and from a penalty Andover's scrum failed to dominate. The home hooker received a yellow card however and from this second penalty, Tom Waite went quickly and drove through three defenders to score cleverly at the base of the post. Rettalick converted and a bonus point win was secured.

Afterwards director of rugby Andy Waite was happy enough and said: " We know we can play better but we did enough and you can't complain about a bonus point win on the road."

"Knowing we were pretty safe we decided to use the game to introduce some new things we are trying and although it's early, we feel we are developing something that will really improve us going forward."