ANDOVER eased themselves further away from trouble with a solid if unspectacular 22-14 win over old rivals Gosport and Fareham last Saturday.

Gosport arrived as relegation rivals but left a long way adrift of safety, as Andover put serious daylight between themselves and trouble.

A superb display from young winger Alex Arter did much to settle the affair as his try scoring man of the match performance was too

Much for the visitors to cope with.

Indeed the Andover youngsters once again caught the eye, with debutante colts prop Jake Meek having an impressive start in the second row and CJ Feirn once again outstanding.

Andover began strongly playing up the slope with the lively Fin Waite stealing early possession.

Andover pressed, but a dropped pass led to a penalty and Gosport cleared.

Andover defended the catch and drive well and from a defensive scrum that followed Andover produced a spell binding try.

From deep in their own twenty two, great pace and wonderful hands saw Sean Higgins feed Arter with a clever flick.

He sprinted to half way and fed Harrison Pape who kicked ahead before winning the race to the ball, he was held up just short. Arter despite being taken out late, superbly made up the ground and went over for a wonderful score.

Five minutes later Andover were at it again.

Nic Reed crashed over the line but had the ball knocked out of his hand before could ground it, the excellent Feirn soon saved his blushes however by turning a ball over on half way and out sprinting the defence with ease for a fifty meter try.

Andover just kept on coming and Gosport looked shell shocked.

A clever lineout move saw the ever reliable Tom Waite crash over for another fine try and then Andover went for the throat.

A series of phases stretched the visitors to breaking point.

Pape orchestrated a fine move involving Josh Gibbs in the centre and after fine carries from Tom Waite and Meek, Reed made up for his early mishap with a determined finish, converted by Rich Rettalick, to secure the try bonus.

Half time came with Gosport looking spent, but you underestimate opponents at your peril in this game, especially when they are wounded.

Andover became casual and were soon punished.

A sloppy home scrum boosted their morale and when poor defence handed the visitors a score they were back in the hunt.

Tom Waite received a yellow card for a dangerous tackle to increase the home woes, but Andover then inexplicably woke up.

Superb defence in the loose from Jake Dixon, Fiern and Billy Pollard all led to turnovers and Andover had weathered the storm.

Back to fifteen Andover regained control.

They again went close after good lineout play by James Smith and a fine break by Harvey Maloney on the wing.

Gosport still did not lie down though and with the last play of the game managed a further try out wide, but it was not enough to gain them even a bonus point and Andover finally look like reaching safety.

Afterwards director of rugby Andy Waite said: "Considering where we were in early December it is a remarkable achievement that we are now almost safe. We have a real mix of youth of experience now and the youngsters are learning fast, especially when it comes to maintaining intensity and focus at this level."

This Saturday (2pm), Andover have a Hampshire Cup match at home against Portsmouth.