Petersfield 13 Andover 10

Andover suffered a disappointing defeat against a strong Petersfield after dominating much of the game.

A much-changed Saxon Sponsored Andover went to the high-flying Petersfield knowing that they would face one of their toughest tests of the season.

Petersfield has always been a hostile place for the Hampshire 'All Blacks' to visit and it was a baptism of fire for Andover’s two debutants – Stanley Pearson and Callum Burge – who had been rewarded for their hard work in the second team this season.

With a strong wind against them in the first half. Andover soon set about moving the ball which Petersfield struggled to live with.

From 9 and 10 Sean Higgins and Charlie Waite, returning after three months out, controlled the game from the outset with Andover’s dangerous centre partnership of Stan North and Ioan Gwynne-Davies seeing a lot of ball as a result.

Despite Andover’s strong performance they found themselves 8-0 down. Petersfield’s standoff pinned Andover back with consecutive 50:22s. Both times Petersfield left with points. One a penalty and then a try from a missed tackle in midfield.

Andover continued to back their style of play, however, trusting their handling skills and invention.

Harry Scobie was causing havoc on the wing and when a clever move allowed him to break away from his own 22, he was stopped on halfway but the ball was quickly recycled to North who burst through and handed off the Petersfield full back to score in the corner.

The pattern of the game continued until the break with the score at half time 8-5.

Andover started the second half in similar fashion. Some good work at the set piece from Bryn Waite and Cj Feirn saw Andover steal ball off Petersfield.

Andover were camped in the Petersfield 22 when the home side received a red card for violent conduct.

Andover took advantage of the extra man. A turnover in midfield by captain Alex Hibdige allowed the Andover backs to move the ball out wide where Alex Arter calmly collected the ball and put in Ioan Gwynne Davies to score in the corner for an 8-10 lead.

Charlie Waite followed this by returning the home side back to their 22 to defend with a 50:22 of his own from kick off.

Andover looked certain to score again. Good work from fullback Rich Retallick saw Andover close to the Petersfield line. Strong carries from the impressive Conor Green and James Dixon followed, but the referee saw an infringement at the ruck and Andover controversially lost Tom Waite to a yellow card.

This took the wind out of Andover’s sails and Petersfield began to show why they were title contenders. They soon found themselves back in the Andover 22 and scored a try from a quick penalty to regain the lead.

With time running down Andover tried to find a way back into the game, but even with the full complement of 15 restored they could not break down the stubborn Petersfield defence and once again an opportunity to win a close game eluded Andover.

Head coach Josh Vasakiwaiwai said: “It was a shame we couldn't get over the line because I think we deserved more from the game. Both sides struggled to get to grips with the style of the referee and that didn't help, but we do need to learn to manage close games better, take more points in the red zone and we will turn some of these close results against the top sides the other way round.”