ANDOVER Rugby Club Thirds started the new year on a high as they battled to a 15-3 win over Eastleigh Thirds.

Danny Gillan’s side faced a difficult test against a heavily bolstered Eastleigh side but went in to the game full of confidence with their unbeaten record still intact.

Andover started in their usual ferocious fashion, putting huge pressure on the visitors from the start.

The usual suspects of Jason Corney, Wayne Jones, Bert Baxter and Phil McCann tested Eastleigh’s defence with powerful running, gaining good yardage whilst keeping possession.

The All Blacks took just 10 minutes to break through the visitors’ defence.

A neat move from a line out between Ben Maloney and Josh Gibbs allowed Gibbs to cross the line for the first points of the day.

Unfortunately, with the weather conditions Gibbs failed to add the extras.

The visitors responded well and began to match Andover in open play and a powerful run by their number eight pushed them deep into The All Blacks’ 22.

Thunderous tackling from the home captain Gillan, and Corney, denied them the try.

Errors at the breakdown however gave Eastleigh a penalty opportunity which they took, taking the score to 5-3 at half time.

With a number of changes after the break, the home side continued to control of the game.

The line outs were being won and stolen by Baxter and Gillan.

The visitors, bolstered by their seconds, started to become frustrated, as they threw everything they could at the home side but could not find a gap in the armour.

Andover soon made them pay as they converted an easy penalty, slotted between the posts by Mike Graham to give the home side a fivepoint advantage going into the last quarter.

Eastleigh came back at Andover, with the game slipping away from the visitors, but with the end of the game in sight stand in skipper Andy Dawkins refused to take a straightforward opportunity for three points and opted for the scrum.

Dawkins left the rest up to the backs and the ever impressive Scott Westwood to wrong foot the covering defence and bulldoze his way over the Eastleigh full-back to score, with Graham adding the extras.

Andover finished the game 15-3 and remain top of the league.

Manager Dan Gillan said: “That was a fantastic performance to take the win from a team that came here packed with their second team, and also in the appalling weather conditions.

“The lads have overcome some massive tests this season and have showed great character in the way they have played.”

He added: “A massive thanks also to the people who braved the conditions to come and support us.”