Basingstoke 7 Andover 15

Andover rugby club dogged out another away win against a much-improved Basingstoke at Down Grange last Saturday.

Indeed 'Stoke' will feel a little aggrieved that they didn't take the spoils, in a match where only some incredible defending and wasteful finishing kept them at bay for long periods.

Saxon Safety-sponsored Andover were once again much changed as injury and unavailability really begin to bite, but the players who came in showed that they are quite capable of performing at this level and the whole side showed tremendous spirit to weather the storm and eventually overcome the home team.

Andover began well with plenty of early possession behind a dominant scrum, where james Monck was outstanding.

A Rich Retallick penalty saw them take the lead, but they were inaccurate in possession and 'Stoke' soon made them pay.

A series of good attacks, saw Stoke cross the line and certain to score, but man of the match CJ Feirn had other ideas and when his never say die last ditch tackle dislodged the ball to save the day, the tone was set for a battling defensive display from Andover.

Andover continued to make errors with the ball, but showed in spurts that they were more than capable of scoring, whilst in defence Feirn, and a colossal performance by Charlie Waite in midfield, kept the visitors down to a single converted try.

With 10 minutes to the break Andover began to finally dominate. The excellent Bryn Waite was everywhere, and his lineout claim led to a strong drive well finished by the excellent Tom Erskine for his third try in three games.

After the break, Andover continued to be solid and when Basingstoke did threaten, they found the defence, and Sean Higgins in particular, in belligerent mood.

Andover called for reinforcements, with Elliot Byrne, Stan Pearson and Conor Churchill all taking the field, and the trio, more normally performing superbly in the second fifteen, soon showed their worth. Byrne and Pearson are two young powerful props, who soon set about destroying the home defence in the loose, whilst adding even more dominance to the Andover scrum.

Churchill added extra pace wide and Andover were in business.

A wave of attacks saw Basingstoke begin to struggle, with Jake Dixon, Ryan McGealy and Bryn Waite again to the fore.

In the end the defence finally gave and skipper Alex Hibdige capped a fine personal display with a lovely try converted by Retallick. 

Once in the lead Andover managed the game very well, not really giving Basingstoke another sniff, keeping possession and leaving the home side to rue their early missed opportunities.

Andover's director of rugby Andy Waite said: "Today we have seen the benefit of a large first team squad, with a second team used to paying well and winning. Players like Louis Davies and Callum Burge, along with Stan Elliot and Conor, brought with them a confidence that we would prevail. That, and the incredible efforts of senior players like Charlie, Bryn and CJ were what got us over the line today."