ANDOVER young guns marched them into the final of the Hampshire bowl, with a fine 22-10 home win over Portsmouth last weekend.

The south coast club have done the league double over Andover this season, a fact that made this victory all the sweeter.

Andover now face old rivals Winchester in the final on April 25. They will be underdogs as Winchester are flying high in the division above and have home advantage, but if this squad can keep playing their exciting brand of rugby, anything is possible.

Andover made several changes to utilise the wider squad for this game and had a good mix of youth and experience in the match day 20. Louis Pereira, Dean Smith and Charlie Rhodes all made first team debuts, joining fellow colts, CJ Feirn, Sean Higgins, Jake Meek and Bryn Waite in the squad. And with Harvey Maloney, Fin Waite and Alex Arter also in the side, Andover fielded no fewer than 10 academy products, under 20-years-old.

In contrast the visitors brought a big strong physical team, hoping to power Andover off the park, but with the senior players on show also in fine form, it was the greater organisation and teamwork of the home side that won through.

Man of the match James Smith ruled the lineout throughout and with skipper Alex Hibdige leading the charge, the smaller Andover pack dominated the scrums.

Portsmouth began well and went in front with an early converted try, but Andover weren’t phased and gradually asserted dominance.

Pressure told as Andover turned over a Portsmouth lineout and after four phases Tom Waite went over for a fine try.

Portsmouth came back themselves and gained good field position, but from their attacking scrum Andover smashed them backwards and the chance had gone.

This proved to be a turning point as although an untidy 20 minutes followed Portsmouth were under constant pressure and Andover gradually turned the screw.

After the break the pressure soon told.

From a driving maul Nic Reed crashed through two defenders to score a fine try converted by Rich Rettalick.

Portsmouth then had their best spell of the half, but could not break a determined defence and only scored a penalty.

The hard running of Billy Pollard, Jake Dixon and Feirn began to tire the visitors and when young Pereira added extra pace and guile for the last quarter, Andover finally put the game to bed.

After a spell of constant pressure Tom Waite was held up short only for his lively brother Fin to smash through the ruck and complete the try, converted by Rettalick.

Andover were jubilant and managed the rest of the half well, before a drop goal with the last kick of the game sealed the win.