Andover 7 Jersey 40

Andover suffered defeat against high-flying Jersey at the Goodship ground last Saturday, despite producing one of their best performances for many seasons.

In a David v Goliath fixture, league newcomers Jersey, boasting several recent ex-rugby championship players from their professional club, are smashing all before them this season as they begin their inevitable climb up the league system.

But if they expected a vibrant 'All Blacks' side to lay down and accept a beating they were in for a shock.

Not only did Andover put in a huge defensive effort, but they at times had the visitors on the ropes and, but for two yellow cards in the last ten minutes, looked like they may have even got a bonus point from the game.  

Andover kicked off up the hill and were soon under pressure. But the powerful Andover scrum immediately sent out their intention and the danger was well cleared by the impressive Louis Pereira.

The following exchanges were evenly matched as the visitors began to realise they could not take liberties.

With limited possession Andover pressed when they could, but when they lost a promising attacking lineout the visitors took full advantage to score out wide.

Another 10 minutes of toing and froing took place before Jersey struck again, this time from a catch and drive.

Andover reacted well and almost scored themselves when the returning Stan North went close, after some great work by Billy Pollard and man of the match Fin Waite, but the chance went begging.

Then from a wonderful scrum Andover looked in control, but influential hooker Tom Waite was injured in the process and Andover lost his dominant presence up front.

To compound matters the excellent Jake Harwood, was unluckily sin binned and Jersey inevitably exploited the space to go into half-time 19-0 to the good.

After the break with the slope in favour Andover upped their game again.

Back to fifteen, with a dominant scrum, where Tom Erskine was immense, and a lineout that had gained parity, they began to make inroads.

Jersey were forced to concede penalties and were lucky not to see yellow themselves. With young replacement hooker Callum barber Starkey everywhere, Andover turned the screw.

After 15 minutes Jersey broke. 

From a series of scrums Conor Green smashed his way over and when Rich Retallick converted splendidly from wide out, they felt they were back in it. 

Jersey tried to apply pressure but with Green and Jake Dixon both in dominant mood, the visitors more illustrious back row was kept very quiet.

Andover then felt very aggrieved when from a counter Jersey got away with a big forward pass and extended their lead against the run of play.

They did not panic however and continued to make chances. prompted by scrum half Sean Higgins,  Nic Reed went close after a driving maul and CJ Feirn was unlucky with a cross field kick from Periera that was inches too high. 

Harrison Pape threatened with his pace, but Andover just could not break through.

Then, when newcomer Jack Randell and Reed were both yellow-carded within a minute of each other, the writing was on the wall.

Teams as good as Jersey know how to exploit weaknesses and with time running out they added two tries, one with the last play of the game, to give the score line a slightly unrealistic feel.

Afterwards Director of Rugby Andy Waite said: "This was a great learning curve for some of our players.

"We were wonderfully led by skipper Alex Hibdige and defended brilliantly as a team. Some of the individual defensive performances were incredible. In attack we improved as the game went on, but we do need to look after the ball better especially against good sides like this, who will destroy you on the counter.

"We were very unlucky with some decisions, especially Nic Reed's card and that also took away the one threat Jersey hadn't coped with all afternoon. All in all very proud of the effort."