Sandown and Shanklin 19 Andover 39
Andover showed once again that they are in this league to stay last Saturday, by destroying Sandown and Shanklin on their own patch with a display of frightening efficiency.
The Oakwood sponsored ‘All Blacks’ gave away a string of early penalties to gift the host club a six nil lead, but once their forward power began to tell, the result was never in doubt.
Andover in truth never really hit their straps in this one after making the long journey, but such is their confidence these days that they stayed patient and simply dismantled the home defence brick by brick.
On a small narrow pitch it was difficult for Andover to bring their dangerous wide men to bear, so it was left to the pack to gradually turn the screw.
And turn the screw they did.
With ball in hand Andover looked superb with Tom Erskine, Billy Pollard, James Dawson and Simon Preece all carrying well, but it was in the tight that Andover took complete control.
Their dominant display at scrum and lineout, where Alex Morgan was superb, drew praise from even the Sandown faithful and when Marc Wilding finished a push over try the scene was set.
Andy Franklin’s tactical astuteness kept Andover going forwards and soon Nic Reed added a second try powering over after a superb Alex Kane break.
Before the break another dominant scrum saw wing Elliott Copestake go over in the corner, but another silly penalty gifted Sandown three points to keep them in the hunt.
Just after the break Sandown came back to within three points with a further kick, but Charlie Waite replied in kind for Andover to ease nerves and Andover suddenly hit another gear.
After the umpteenth scrum penalty the referee finally lost patience with Sandown and awarded Andover a penalty try, much to the joy of front rows Carl Sievewright, Tom Waite and Alex Hibidge.
Charlie Waite converted, but soon brother Tom was sin binned and Sandown could have been forgiven for expecting some respite with Andover down to seven forwards and no hooker.
They could think again however, as Andover simply drove over for another push over try finished by Wilding and converted by Charlie Waite, to completely assert their dominance.
With Tom Waite back in the fray Andover poured forwards and went close several times, before one of the tries of the season put the icing on the cake.
Franklin fed Dave Catt in his own twenty two and the young winger broke free to make a fifty metre dash deep into the Sandown half.
Kane was at the breakdown in a flash and he fed Charlie Waite whose clever cross kick put Copestake away for a glorious try, which youngster Waite converted superbly from wide out.
Andover rang the changes and pushed for more, but in the last minute were caught with a sucker punch by Sandown and conceded a try with the final move of the game.
Afterwards Coach Andy Waite was very happy with the outcome.
“This was a real potential banana skin for us and is the first time for several years we have beaten Sandown and Shanklin.”
“It wasn’t pretty at times, but playing a determined and committed team on a small pitch was never likely to be.
We were very good tactically and showed we can play in several different ways when we have to and carry threats everywhere. Six tries to one away from home is an excellent effort” he said.
Next week Andover face old adversaries New Milton at home kick off 2.30.