ANDOVER 84 Ellingham and Ringwood 5

It was the 12 tries of Christmas at the Goodship ground last weekend, as Andover overran the visiting New Foresters to finish 2023 on a real high.

In front of a large noisy crowd well lubricated by the Christmas lunch, Andover, wearing their brand new red change kit, courtesy of Pikes coaches, served up a festive treat of their own, with a display of open running rugby that blew the visitors away.

Playing up the slope Andover took the lead after just six minutes when the returning Louis Pereira set man of the match Stan North away for a lovely opener.

Skipper Alex Hibdige soon extended the lead after being set up by James Monck and the impressive Tom Erskine and just ten minutes later, excellent work by Arlo Matley set Roman Barton-Knott away on a 50m dash for the line to put them further in front.

Ellingham were all at sea and moments later Andover sealed a first quarter bonus point when Matley finished a stunning counter involving Pereira, Niko Rowe and North.

Andover were relentless, and soon after Pereira again turned provider to put Nic Reed over from a quick tap penalty, before Bryn Waite set up a lineout drive from which Erskine continued his run of try scoring.

Before the break Bryn Waite himself dotted down after great work from Jake Dixon and brothers Tom and Charlie Waite gave him the freedom of the pitch.

After the break Andover understandably came off the accelerator a little but after ten minutes that man Pereira was at it again.

Ellingham enjoyed a brief spell of possession, but the young scrum half spotted their move from some distance and intercepted superbly to scamper over. 

Andover brought on Trenton Small and Stan Pearson handed a first team debut to Finlay Anderson-Clark to freshen things up.  

Ten minutes later great hands from Charlie Waite and North sent Rowe over for a lovely score, before the same player set up Matley to complete his brace.

Periera then again took center stage starting and finishing a wonderful counterattack, featuring a typical piece of elusive Harrison Pape running before the home side were reminded that the visitors could still bite back.

Ellingham never gave up and when given a chance by some poor concentration they crashed over for their only try.

With moments left Andover stung into action produced another piece of magic. Pereira again was in the thick of the action from the kick off and when Small went over for a very popular score the place erupted.

Rich Retallick slotted the final conversion to complete his perfect twelve from twelve and the players left the field to celebrate into the night.

Afterwards, director of rugby Andy Waite said: "I thought we were superb. Ellingham did their best but they met us on a very good day. Only two defeats in the whole of 2023 and we have improved so much over the year. We have big challenges ahead, but I believe we are building a squad and mentality that can really take us places."