ANDOVER Rugby Club boss Andy Waite has admitted his side are in a “relegation dogfight” after they fell to a 34-20 derby defeat at home to rivals Winchester.

The All Blacks went in to the game a point above the drop zone and in need of a win to put daylight between them and second from bottom Weybridge Vandals.

However they were left bitterly disappointed as their local rivals took a dominant lead within the opening 30 minutes.

Playing without key men Tom Wait and Alex Kane, the Oakwood side started nervously and the visitors quickly sent a warning shot with a missed penalty kick.

Then came the first of a series of errors that were ultimately to be the undoing of Andover as a missed tackle let Winchester in for a converted try.

Soon after the mistake was compounded by another at the other end when with the line begging, a forward pass meant Charlie Waite’s effort was chalked off.

Andover soon learned the seriousness of this error as instead of being level, they once again imploded to go further behind. A mixup in midfield gifted a score to the visitors which they gratefully accepted and soon after a missed tackle allowed them in again. Andover dug deep and for the final 10 minutes of the half gained control of the game.

Winchester began to rock and before half-time an excellent break from Elliot Copestake gave Kieran Jenvey a chance and he neatly narrowed the gap.

After the break Andover pressed forward and from a lineout Jordan Gray finished well to give them real hope. Andover went for the throat and after turning over a scrum in midfield Charlie Waite punished the struggling visitors with a well struck penalty.

The Andover scrum was almost running forwards and when Jenvey grabbed his second from the base of a scrum Andover were within a point. As Winchester mounted a rare attack, another missed tackle let them in. Eight points down, Andover panicked and fell further behind.

Two yellow cards for Jack Stott and Alex Hibidge, both for desperate try-saving actions, added to the problems and Winchester slotted home the two penalties to finally put themselves out of sight.

Coach Waite said after the game: “We’re now in a real relegation dogfight, but we’ve been in this division long enough now to know what’s required of us and we’ve got to go back to basics, target the games we feel we can get something from and go again.”