Bournemouth 2  7 Andover 59

Andover RFC secured their long-awaited promotion to level six of the National pyramid in emphatic fashion last Saturday, thrashing Bournemouth 2nd 63-12 on the road.

Saxon Safety-sponsored Andover made the long journey to Bournemouth knowing a win would see them promoted for the first time in almost 20 years, and they finished the job in some style with nine-try blitz of basement side Bournemouth 2.

In another sparkling away performance, Andover blew away their relegated hosts, who despite their poor season showed plenty of spirit in this one. 

Andover began playing up a slope and against a significant wind and looked a little nervy to begin with.

Bournemouth enjoyed possession and attacked for several phases, but sound tackling from Bryn Waite, Jake Dixon and Tom Waite stopped them in their tracks.

After 10 minutes Andover took the lead. A sweeping move involving Dixon, Stan North and Stan Pearson  set Tom Erskine away and the big lock needed no second bidding with Rich Retallick converting.

Andover began to press harder and five minutes later, from a penalty awarded for offside, Ioan Gwynne Davies tapped and went quickly to increase the lead with Retallick again converting.

Although comfortable enough Andover were not at their cohesive best and spurned several chances. Scrum and lineout, were dominant and Andover had plenty of the ball.

Nic Reed carried hard with Callum Barber Starkey and Callum Hollinshead also prominent, but too often Andover were wasteful when they should have scored.

On the half hour however they struck what seemed to be a fatal blow. From a lineout ten meters out, the impressive Bryn Waite took the ball short and evaded the cover to score a neat try.

Bournemouth then had their best spell but Andover defended stoutly and looked comfortable, until right on half time when a defensive misread allowed Bournemouth in for a try converted from out wide.

After the break Andover reorganised with Roman Barton Knott coming on for his first outing after a long injury break.

Andover immediately attacked down the slope with the back three of Harrison, Pape, James Fleet and Fergus Burtt now more able to get involved in running at open space.

Almost immediately the excellent Niko Rowe stole possession and set off on a thirty meter run carried on by  Tom Waite, Pearson, and North, for Barber Starkey to dash over for the bonus point try.

From then on it was all Andover as they ran everything at the home side. 

Another flowing move saw Pape go close before North finished well, but Andover suffered a blow when Pearson went off injured.

Fin Waite entered the fray to impressively play his first ever game at Loosehead, as Andover continued to dominate up front.

Soon, another flowing move involving Reed, Rowe and Pape, sent Burtt over and then North completed his brace with a thirty meter interception.

He was then replaced by James Hague with Bryn Waite moving to the wing. 

Andover continued to run riot as Barton-Knott interchanged superbly with Pape to score a lovely try and once again a fine Rowe break put Gwynne Davies in for his second.

Retallick finished the scoring with his seventh conversion of the day as the celebrations began.

Afterwards, director of Rugby Andy Waite said: "This has been a monumental effort by these lads to achieve promotion in such a difficult way. They have been immense all season and today typified it, as there were so many good performances I couldn't award a man of the match. We know next season is going to bring real challenges in a different way, but we're up for the adventure. Well done to the boys and all concerned."