Andover 50 Portsmouth 10

A sparkling second-half display from Andover was enough to blow away the challenge of a spirited Portsmouth at the Goodship Ground last Saturday, with Rich Retallick on fire with 25 points in the game.

The full-back was in fine form with the boot and needed to be as Andover struggled to score the tries they ought to have, in an error-strewn first half.

Playing up the slope Andover began well and after just three minutes Retallick struck after a scrum penalty. Portsmouth hit back immediately with a penalty of their own but were then put under siege by an Andover side who dominated completely but were very wasteful in attack.

Andover showed how much they have improved since losing narrowly to the visitors earlier in the season, with some powerful scrummaging and a lineout, where Bryn Waite was again outstanding, barely making an error all day.

Indeed, the youngster is forming a formidable partnership with joint men of the match Fin Waite and the excellent Robbie Duncan in the back row, where all three are providing an exciting platform for some great attacking play.

Despite this a combination of poor options and great defence, saw Andover waste chance after chance. Retallick however kept his nerve and the scoreboard ticking, with three more penalties before the break.

In the second half Andover made changes, with Stan North joining the fray and with instructions to move the ball earlier, the Portsmouth dam soon broke.

Great work by Harrison Pape, North and Bryn Waite saw stand in skipper Nic Reed recycle, and that man Retallick went over for the first try.

Sean Higgins began to orchestrate at scrum-half where he and Duncan really got at the visitors and after some good phase play, the pair combined with Tom Waite whose superb cut-out pass put Pape in at the corner.

Young prop Stan Pearson replaced James Monck and was soon in the thick of things with some excellent carries and with CJ Feirn being in his usual destructive self Portsmouth could not get a foothold.

Feirn then turned provider when his clever grubber kick saw Jake Harwood win a foot race he had no right to win, with Retallick converting superbly from the touchline.

Portsmouth received a yellow card and began to wilt as Andover poured forwards.

Pearson made a great break and when Reed was again on hand to set the play, North screamed through the defence to score a fine try converted by Retallick.

Portsmouth to their credit did not lie down and when North was himself harshly yellow carded, they scored the first try Andover have conceded at home in three matches. 

Andover even a man down Andover did not take the foot off the pedal. From a neat piece of work by the excellent Jake Dixon, Reed and Duncan stormed forward and from a short ruck, Tom Erskine crashed over for a try again converted by Retallick.

Andover were not done, and they saved the best for last.

From a defensive scrum North, now back on the field broke powerfully before interchanging with the impressive Harwood. 

The ball eventually found its way to winger Stan Bell and with 50m to go his searing pace was too much for a defence that he left grasping air as he went over for a fantastic score, again coveted by Retallick to bring up the half century for Andover.

Afterwards, director of rugby Andy Waite said: "In the end this was a pleasing result because Portsmouth were a bit stronger than some teams we've played of late and tested us more. That said despite some really creative attacking, we are still leaving a lot of points out there at times, so hats off to Rich for keeping us ahead.  Great to see Stan Bell sign off for the season in such style, as he goes travelling and yet another academy product Stan Pearson really making progress. We need to keep it up in the next few games now."