IN A wonderful, powerful and controlled performance, Andover finally delivered what they have been promising for weeks as they won at Basingstoke 39-31 in a North Hampshire derby thriller.

The All Blacks made the short trip down the A303 in big trouble in London South West Three and were not favourites against their high flying neighbours.

But in their best outing this season the Andover boys came away with five precious points to ease their worries and send out a clear warning that their reported demise is seriously premature.

In a game played under lights in front of a big noisy home crowd Andover began brightly with the wind, with Conor Green immediately sending a warning to Stoke of what was to come.

Then after just three minutes colts scrum half Sean Higgins, in just his second senior game, began his man of the match performance by cleverly feeding Nic Reed on the blindside for the giant forward to gallop over for his first try.

Basingstoke showed immediately why they are no pushover striking back with a try from a clever cross kick, but Andover just oozed confidence every time they had the ball.

The impressive Harrison Pape thought he’d scored, but was ruled to have moved twice. From the lineout following the resultant penalty though, Green snaffled a loose ball and galloped over to give Andover back the lead.

Rich Rettalick converted and then Andover took control.

A flowing move involving the excellent Tom Waite and James Smith put Billy Pollard away and when the centre was finally halted Simon Preece drove over for another fine try converted by Retallick.

Basingstoke had one big weapon, their catch and drive lineout and soon pulled a score back from this route.

Undeterred Andover stormed back and when Ioan Gwynne Davies stripped a defender of the ball, Reed was once more the beneficiary to storm through and score.

The half then went crazy.

Basingstoke were awarded a string of penalties that bemused Andover and when from one they scored again, it seemed a comeback was on.

Things got worse for the visitors when before the break an interception gave Basingstoke a parity they scarcely deserved.

At the break Andover regrouped and came out all guns blazing.

Green was again to the fore along with rampaging tight head James Monck, but it was the lively Fin Waite on the open side who really tore into the home side. Basingstoke had no answer to his support play and hard running and before long Andover got their reward.

Higgins was again involved when he cleared up loose ball as Andover pressed and when Pollard and Tom Waite indulged in some outrageous handling, Josh Gibbs sprinted home in the corner.

Harry Batt and Wayne Jones had entered the fray and both added to the Andover dominance as skipper Alex Hibdige and his henchman Smith took control.

For once Andover managed the rest of the half superbly.

Retallick added a penalty to give Andover breathing space and then the score that put the game to bed.

Fin Waite was irrepressible and when he set up field position Reed was on hand to complete a superb hat trick, not bad for a front five forward.

Andover ran the clock down very well, frustrating the home side and their fans, but Basingstoke had the last word, when with the last play of the game their stalwart Simon Appleby, playing his 250th game for the club, grabbed a consolation.

After the game Director of rugby Andy Waite said: “This was a massive game for us and we stood really tall today. We have made changes, brought Sean Higgins and Conor Green in after superb second team performances and they have delivered.

“The club as a whole is very healthy with the seconds and thirds both going well in their leagues and whilst we are not complacent and we know we have lots to work on in training, we are confident we can move onwards and upwards if the players play like they have today.”