Andover 28 v Southampton University Medics 10
In a dramatic Hampshire bowl final, Oakwood sponsored Andover confirmed their credentials for higher level rugby taking major silverware for the second successive season.
Young full back Charlie Waite grabbed the headlines with a one hundred per cent kicking performance that yielded twenty three of Andover’s points in tough conditions.
But in truth it was a fantastic performance from the whole side, in a pulsating match that really had the large crowd in raptures.
The ‘Moose’s as the Medics like to be called, are an invitation side based in Southampton hospital and were a real unknown quantity for Andover.
The fact that they had already easily beaten Trojans and Eastleigh on the way to the final, gave the ‘All Blacks’ a clue that they would be very good and when they took to the field sporting several national league players in their line up, they and their big noisy following felt it was going to be their day.
Andover begged to differ however and from the start both teams went at each other with real pace and passion.
The Medics attacked from the off and clearly wanted to run the ball at every opportunity.
A huge early hit from Niko Rowe, followed by one from Billy Pollard sent a clear message they would not find this tactic easy and although they took the lead with an early penalty, Andover soon struck back.
From the restart Alex Hibdige forced a knock on and from the resulting scrum Andover served notice of their forward power.
Giant prop Carl Sievewright tore into his opponent and as the Moose’s crumbled Andover had the penalty and the ascendency they were never to lose. Charlie Waite slotted the difficult kick and the writing was firmly on the wall alongside the ‘Moose’s’ head.
Spurred on by skipper Alex Morgan who was outstanding in the loose, Andover took the game to the medics with superb driving runs from Nick Reed and Ash Gait.
With Andy Franklin and George Roscoe orchestrating, Rowe and Sammy Froggett made inroads, as the backs showed they were also a match for the medics in every way.
After constant Andover pressure, from a scrum against the head Simon Preece broke with real venom as he did all afternoon and once again only foul play prevented a score.
Charlie Waite converted the kick and another awarded soon after, and was then victim of a very poor challenge that led to a yellow card for the medics. Ahead at half time with the wind in favour Andover knew they had a real chance.
They used field position well and from a series of scrums in which they were at times almost running forwards, it seemed a penalty try was inevitable.
Before it came however, one scrum disintegrated so badly, that only Andover players were left standing and hooker Tom Waite picked up and drove powerfully through for a converted score the whole Andover front five richly deserved.
The Medics would not lay down and soon came back with a fine converted try of their own.
As so often however Andover stayed calm and simply turned the screw even harder.
They utilized their strong bench as Dawson Ratu and, Kieran Jenvey replaced the excellent Franklin and Dave Catt, whilst Jack Stott made a welcome return to Andover colours after a year playing in Ireland.
Even when Elliott Copestake received a yellow card, it mattered not as under constant pressure the Medics finally wilted.
More fresh legs saw Aaron Hatcher make a first team return alongside new boy Ben Spraggs in the second row and it was all medics could do to desperately give penalties away to prevent a try.
Charlie Waite punished them every time they transgressed however and by the time the referee blew for time, the medics had finally given their all and Andover celebrated.
“We were excellent today against a team that were stronger than anything we have played in the league this year” said Coach Andy Waite afterwards.
“We controlled the game tactically and despite having several first choice players missing we never gave an inch. Even the watching Hampshire committee were very impressed.”
“These lads deserved this so much and it just puts the icing on a fantastic season.”