Andover 38 Milbrook 19
Oakwood sponsored Andover moved two points clear at the top of Snows Hampshire division one last Saturday with a workman like performance against a tough Milbrook side.
Milbrook had won the last two encounters between these sides including the Hampshire bowl final at the Goodship ground last season and the pent up hurt of that experience was plenty to fire up a much improved Andover this time.
Milbrook arrived with a huge pack to try and counter the power of Andover’s forwards but the ploy left them a little short of pace around the park and Andover showed they can play either way in a six try demolition of their nearest rivals.
The Andover pack had their toughest time to date in the scrums, but still held their own comfortably and in the lineout with Marc Wilding and skipper Alex Morgan in fine form Andover were supreme.
Andover enjoyed good possession throughout and only indiscipline at the breakdown gave Milbrook any hope, as a series of silly penalties kept them in touch.
Andover began well and an astute Andy Franklin kick gave them an early attacking lineout.
Quick ball saw the ball move wide and the ever improving Elliott Copestake finished superbly in the corner.
The warning was then clear as Milbrook kicked the first of the needless chances they were given, before Andover struck again.
The pace and power of the Andover backs was causing havoc and when Jack Stott set off on a mazy run before feeding Rich Retallick to score the scene was set.
Retallick converted to extend the lead then after a period of solid defence it was Stott again who provided the moment of the game.
Receiving the ball in midfield surrounded by Milbrook players did not deter the prolific centre at all.
With a series of side steps, hand offs and a burst of real pace Stott left all in his wake to give Retallick the easiest of conversions under the posts.
Andover should have been out of sight, but Milbrook continued to chip away with penalties until just before the break Simon Preece provided the breathing space and a bonus point with Andover’s fourth try.
The second half was a strange affair with both sides struggling to comply with referee Nick Marshalls wishes at the breakdown.
Yellow cards were inevitable, but Andover felt a little aggrieved that they outscored Milbrook three one in that department and for five minutes only had thirteen players against fifteen.
Andover defended heroically at this point however and although Milbrook did close the gap further with their only try of the game, Andover had weathered the storm.
Before long Andover once again showed that mobility up front is as important as power as they finally put the contest to bed.
Second row Aaron Hatcher took a fine ball in the centre and fed hooker Tom Waite, whose pace and superb pass set Copestake away for his second try.
Milbrook tried hard to come back but Andover strangled their efforts before breaking away to get the final score of the game.
Stott’s break and kick ahead was meat and drink for winger Sam Froggett who finished superbly under the posts to allow Retallick the final say with the conversion.
Afterwards Coach Andy Waite was happy with the performance.
“This was a game that really could have been a banana skin but in the end we won well.”
“We had to battle and at times made it hard for ourselves with indiscipline, but considering we have had a month off we have trained well and maintained our momentum.”
Next week Andover face a battle royal away to fellow high fliers and pre-season title favourites Fordingbridge in a mouth-watering clash.