Andover 22 Alton 27

It was another difficult day at the office for Andover as they went down at home to Alton last weekend.

The visitors have their problems themselves, but they could barely believe the benevolence of Saxon Safety-sponsored Andover in the first half hour, as they raced into a 17-point lead that was to ultimately just see them through.

The first part of this game is best forgotten from an Andover point of view, as despite playing behind a very dominant scrum and a much-improved lineout, they just could not get going in attack.

Alton took full advantage of the nervousness of Andover and raced into a ten-point lead with a converted try and a penalty.

Andover steadied for a while and began to threaten as the boot of Ollie Carr-Smith gave them field position.

Stan North and CJ Fiern looked threatening and when the pair set Jake Harwood free the winger looked certain to score, only to be stripped on the line by a last-ditch tackle.

Moments later however Nic Reed was bizarrely yellow-carded at a lineout and once again Alton pounced to increase their lead.

Andover, at last, woke up from their slumber and even a man down began to dominate.

On the half-hour great work by Feirn and Fin Waite gave Andover a scrum 5 and despite having only seven in the scrum, Andover drove Alton backwards and Conor Green dived over for a try converted by Carr-Smith.

Andover sensed they were in it and soon after from another scrum they scored a lovely try.

Sean Higgins and Carr-Smith combined to set North free and when he found Harrison Pape, the fullback danced over.

After the break Andover continued to dominate as skipper Alex Hibdige drove his team forwards.

With the returning Bryn Waite causing havoc at the lineout and a scrum milking penalties, it all looked good.

Before long Andover took the lead. Another good piece of work by Carr-Smith saw his chip ahead land in the hands of Harwood and off he went.

Fifty meters and five defenders later the pacey winger dived over for the try of the game, converted by Carr-Smith and Andover finally took the lead.

Even a second yellow card, this time for powerful tighthead James Monck, could not stop the momentum. 

Moments later after another scrum penalty Carr-Smith stretched the lead and with minutes left and Andover camped in the Alton zone.

But from a long clearance kick Andover fell asleep and with a devastating counter Alton scored again to level.

Then came an ending that left Andover fuming. The referee awarded the conversion despite the touch judges not flagging and then awarded Alton a penalty from the kick-off for back chat.

With time still on the Alton kicker missed, but as Andover set for one last attack, the official allowed Alton to retake the kick, stating he heard someone on the sideline deliberately shout to put the kicker off. This time the kick was successful, there was no time for any restart and Andover had just a bonus point to show for it all.

Afterwards, director of Rugby Andy Waite said: "Sometimes it feels like everything is conspiring against you, when you go on a run like this. We were poor first half, dragged ourselves ahead and looked good, but we are low on confidence and just don't seem to be getting any luck in the big moments. All we can do is pick ourselves up and go again next week."