Andover 17 v Southampton Medics 34
Oakwood sponsored Andover ventured into the unknown at the Goodship ground last Saturday welcoming Southampton medics in the Hampshire cup competition for the first time.
The medics play University league rugby and were an unknown quantity, but soon showed an experimental Andover that they meant business with an opening burst that saw the home side reeling.
Andover took the opportunity to test their whole squad and fielded a new look back division and it was while they were trying to find some cohesion that the medics took full advantage.
Defensive disorganisation cost Andover dear and with some poor first up tackling thrown in the medics raced into a 17 point lead with three well executed tries.
Andover tried to rally through a powerful pack that welcomed back into action marauding Fijian Paul Tuinsakea from duty in Afghanistan and for a while it looked likely to bear fruit, but all of the hard work was again undone by poor tackling that let the visitors in again.
Andover made changes and altered tactics and before the break hauled themselves back into the game with a penalty try from a powerful short scrum converted by Josh Gibbs.
Encouraged by this and some harsh words from the coaches at half time Andover redoubled their efforts.
They camped in the Medics 22 metre area but a mixture of desperate defence and wayward finishing kept them at bay.
Gibbs reduced the arrears further with a penalty and despite medics replying in kind Andover really turned the screw.
Try as they might however Medics held them at bay for a crucial further ten minutes and when the inevitable try did come from veteran Zoe Ball there was not enough time left to complete the comeback.
Andover continued to press however and went close again before in the final move of the match the Medics were again too good for the cover to seal the win.
Afterwards coach Andy Waite was not pulling any punches “We wanted to use this competition to allow some of our squad players to show what they could do at this level and from that perspective at least it was a success.” He said.
“Ash Gait in the back row showed he has bags of promise and will be pushing for a regular spot soon and Martin Smiles looked comfortable at stand-off.”
“The forwards generally did very well as you would expect, but we were tactically naive and casual in the first half hour and got what we deserved.”
“I think the problem for one or two is that they have not been really tested defensively in the second team and seriously need to work on their tackling and organisation if they wish to play at this level.”
Next week Andover return to league action away to an Isle of Wight side who gave them a tough test last Season hoping to continue their push towards the top.