Andover 56 Farnborough 5
Oakwood sponsored Andover finished the year firmly at the top of Snow’s Hampshire division one with an emphatic victory over fellow high fliers Farnborough.
A large noisy crowd were treated to a Christmas feast as Andover ran in eight tries and despite the atrocious conditions produced some excellent rugby along the way.
The visitors arrived at the Goodship ground full of hope after huge improvements since Andover destroyed them earlier in the season.
From the kick off however it was clear that Andover were in no mood for charity as they tore into Farnborough with power and venom that seemed to shock the visitors.
Farnborough arrived with a game plan to use their large physical forwards and powerful half backs and centre to keep the game tight, but from the first minute the plan unravelled.
A huge hit from Tom Waite led to a scrum five and the resulting move, superbly finished by man of the match Elliott Copestake, set Andover on the way.
Playing against a driving wind made things difficult for Andover but they were relentless in their attacking ambition, matching and then gradually grinding down the visitors forward effort and looking sharp in the backs when any space appeared.
Farnborough had to crack and when they did it was a wonderful break from centre Jack Stott that would have graced any pitch that did the damage. His fleet of foot and inside pass set skipper Alex Morgan away to score.
Stott left the field injured as a precaution and was replaced by James Dawson as Andover suddenly went through the gears.
Fijian star Paul Tuinasakea soon proved unstoppable from a lineout drive and before the break returning centre powerhouse Niko Rowe gave Andover the bonus point with a lovely step and finish from Martin Smiles neat pass.
Andover began the second half sloppily but were soon reminded the job was not done as Farnborough grabbed a try from a tap penalty.
This stirred Andover into action and they never looked back.
The power of Andover’s forwards where Nic Reed, Alex Hibidge and Aaron Hatcher were outstanding, began to overwhelm Farnborough and soon two Rich Retallick penalties put the game beyond doubt.
As the visitors wilted Waite burrowed over for a fine try and Tuinasakea grabbed his second from a quick penalty.
Copestake too completed his brace with an outrageous interception and then Retallick completed a personal tally of 21 points with the final try of the game.
Afterwards Coach Andy Waite was in very positive mood.
“We played very well against tricky opposition today and that is reflected in the final score.” he said.
“We needed to be far more disciplined in our play than of late and I thought we stuck to our game plan superbly.”
“There were some fantastic personal performances and we are slowly building a great squad of players who really want to be part of our vision.”
“All of our bench today are quality players who could have easily started and that’s with a couple of regulars missing. It’s that depth and commitment that is going to be important as we really push for promotion in the New Year.”