IN A game that took on a completely different character from the try-filled spectacle of the previous week, Andover Rugby Club managed to secure a hard-fought victory against Portsmouth in a closely contested match at the Goodship ground.

The 'All blacks' were never really in trouble in this one, but a disjointed and inaccurate attacking display, left the game a closer one than it should have been.

Poor decision-making and handling riddled the Andover display, especially in the first half, in a game that was very stop-start and never really got going.

Andover fell behind to an early try from Portsmouth after falling asleep as a penalty shot hit the post and bounced back into play.

Rich Rettalick kicked two penalties to put Andover within a point and they looked likely to take the lead.

Andover lost Rettalick to injury at half time leading to a reorganisation in the backs, with the impressive Harrison Pape moving to stand off and Jack Stott making a welcome return to action, taking over the full back slot.

Andover began to look more threatening through their very pacey back line and when Jake Harwood took the ball in his own half, sold an outrageous dummy and outpaced the cover for a wonderful try, converted by Graham, it seemed Andover would finally break the 'Pompey' will.

The visitors had other ideas though and soon narrowed the gap with a penalty, but Andover kept pressing.

Andover lost replacement Robbie Duncan to an arm injury, forcing Fin Waite to return to the fray also nursing a knock, and soon after younger brother Bryn now deputising on the wing, was unlucky to be penalised when Andover looked certain to score.  

Andover continued to press but with only a three-point lead needed the buffer of another try. 

At just the right moment the experience of hooker Tom Waite came to the rescue. He combined with brother Fin in a clever lineout move that stunned Portsmouth to leave them needing a converted try and time running out.

They gave it a go but the Andover defence, with Stan North outstanding were in no mood to concede.

In the end with almost the final move, Portsmouth decided to kick a penalty and grab a bonus point, their efforts deserved.

Afterwards, Andover rugby director Andy Waite said: "We were our own worst enemies today and have to learn to be calmer in possession and take advantage of our dominance. That said, as Nic Reed commented in the huddle, this is a game we may well have lost this time last season, so we have to be pleased with our resilience and game management. And what try by Jake Harwood who alongside Jake Dixon, was outstanding."