Jersey 26 Andover 14

Andover boarded the plane to run away leaders Jersey last weekend and gave their illustrious hosts a real run for their money.

Jersey have swept all before them as they progress through the league system, and in truth are destined for at least two divisions above this one, but for the first time this season they were given a real test by an Andover side.

'The Hampshire All Blacks' fresh from a big win themsleves last week, travelled in force, with the young energetic core of the team backed up by experienced senior players to show the islanders that this would not be the walkover many of their other games have been. 

Played in wet windy conditions it would have been easy to be drawn into a forward battle, but both sides played some impressive running rugby.

From the kick off Andover showed Jersey that they were there to play with their big forwards taking the fight to the opposition before releasing the young backline.

For the first quarter of the match the teams were at deadlock with neither side able to find a way through and discipline on both sides requiring intervention from the ref. 

After 20 minutes, Jersey claimed their own line out and finally went over from a driving maul to score the first points as Harrison Pape saw yellow for team offences. 

The first half remained back and forth however until ill discipline lead to Andover spending the remainder of the half with 14 men with Jake Harwood earning another yellow just as Pape's ended. Jersey capitalised scoring another 2 tries to finish the half 19-0.

The beginning of the second half saw a shift in momentum between the sides with Andover coming out with renewed determination and desire, lead by the destructive defense of young centers CJ Fiern and Harwood, and the well-oiled lineout machine led by 3 of 4 brothers on the pitch for Andover, Tom, Fin and Bryn Waite. 

These efforts as well as the powerful running of forwards Nic Reed, Tom Erskine, James Monck and skipper Alex Hibdige, lead to Andover beginning to press the opposition and pin them inside their own half for a majority of time. After 20 minutes, despite a third yellow for the competitive Robbie Duncan, the breakthrough came.

A clearance kick from 18-year-old winger Stan Bell and subsequent chase from Andover backs left Jersey's full back with no option but to run back at winger Pape. 

He stripped the ball before beating several defenders before seeing back rower Bryn Waite in the wide channel. Pape's clever cross-field kick left Waite with only one defender to beat who he shrugged off with ease to dive over for Andover's first try of the day converted by Rich Retallick to put Andover in touching distance of a bonus point.

With the restart in play came a new wave of pressure from the hosts who were determined not to allow Andover back in it. 

The Andover defence held firm however and they were soon back on attack. Sean Higgins and Louis Pereira kept the backs well-supplied but Andover were unable to break through the home defense. 

The back and forth between the two sides continued with Jersey capitalising on a slip in concentration by Andover to claim their bonus point try and finally end Andover's efforts to claim one. 

Andover did not stop pushing however and claimed the last points of the day in the last play of the game.

Andover’s dominant line out once again won the ball before Pereira fed the fourth Waite brother Charlie, on at stand-off.

He and Pereira interchanged with man-of-the-match Fiern before a couple of quick passes saw the excellent Pape go over the whitewash to give Andover their second try with Charlie Waite adding the conversion from out wide.

Afterwards Director of Rugby Andy Waite was bouyant with his team's performance.

"A great day for me personally obviously with all my sons playing together at last, but as a team we were terrific. We silenced a big crowd who are used to seeing their side thrash everyone and we won the second half comfortably, playing some superb rugby and scoring two fantastic tries. The only downside is Alex (Hibdige) has broken a finger and will be out for a few weeks."