Andover 41 Havant 2s 19

Andover took a huge step towards promotion with a comprehensive victory over third-placed Havant at the Goodship ground last Saturday.

It's firmly in Andover's hands now as victory in their last game away to bottom side Bournemouth in two weeks time, will confirm their rise to level six of the national league pyramid for the first time in their history.

Havant as always brought a very quick and competitive team for this one, but Saxon Safety sponsored Andover were in no mood to show the generosity they have in their last two games and despite playing up the slope dominated almost from the start.

The return of James Monck and Nic Reed added extra power to an already impressive scrum and the Andover lineout was again virtually faultless supplying Andover with a lot of ball.

When Havant did have the ball, they found the Andover defence, led by man of the match and Vice Presidents player of the year, Jake Dixon, in a very aggressive mood. 

Dixon, the impressive Callum Barber Starkey and excellent Niko Rowe, were impassable in the first quarter as Andover turned the screw.

On 15 minutes Andover took the lead via a lineout move between brothers Bryn and Tom Waite with the hooker capping another fine display with a try.

Five minutes later Bryn Waite was again involved when his run set up a swift handling move involving Rowe, Stan North and Harrison Pape, superbly finished by Reed.

It then only took another five minutes for Andover to take complete control.

From a ruck big second row Tom Erskine showed a deftness of touch to put North away and the giant centre smashed through with Rich Retallick converting.

Before the break Erskine grabbed  a try of his own finishing a good catch and drive with Retallick again on target.

Two minutes into the second half and Andover struck again. A brilliant break by Barber Starkey was carried on by Rowe and skipper Alex Hibdige, who put in a lovely pass for Bryn Waite to finish in the corner.

A late hit saw Waite leave the field to be replaced by Callum Hollinshead  and Havant receive a yellow card and Andover awarded a penalty from the restart for foul play.

Andover piled on the pressure and after five minutes that man Erskine grabbed his fifteenth of the season driving over from a ruck.

Andover then took their foot off the gas believing the job was done and Havant immediately showed what a good side they are  scoring tries in quick succession.

Andover rang the changes with Stan Pearson and Fergus Burtt entering the fray, and with the ship steadied Rowe set off on an incredible run to set up field position from which Reed  completed his brace to complete the Andover scoring.

Havant did manage a late consolation but it could do nothing to quieten the large Andover crowd as they celebrated an important victory.

Afterwards Director of rugby Andy Waite said: "This was a fine win against a good side but we haven't reached the finishing line just yet. We still have a tough away game to go and only then can we relax. My thanks to our skipper Alex who will miss the last game after a thumb operation, he's been superb all year."