Andover 60 Old Tonbridgians 8
Absolute focus was the order of the day as Oakwood sponsored Andover reinforced their top of the table credentials with a ten try destruction of Old Tonbridgians at Foxcotte park last Saturday.
Complacency could have been Andover’s worst enemy in this one, having heavily beaten the visitors in the reverse fixture earlier in the season, but with veteran stand in skipper Marc Wilding once more leading the way, any hope the chasing pack had that Andover might slip up against tricky opposition was soon dashed.
Even a number of changes due to illness and unavailability did nothing to dampen the Andover ardour and when man of the match Tom Waite opened the scoring with neatly taken try after fifteen minutes the result was never in doubt.
“The strength we now possess in the squad is really starting to show” said delighted Coach Andy Waite.
“When you see players coming in like Craig Allen and Martin Smiles, to join exciting youngsters George Roscoe and Ash Gait you know we were in safe hands.”
“When you then look across at the second team pitch and see the amount of first team standard players on there, putting a strong Portsmouth team to the sword, you can see that it is the depth we now have that is giving us such consistency.”
Indeed the ‘All Blacks’ development this term is all the more obvious when considered against visitors Old Tons.
They were promoted into this league with Andover last season after beating Fordingbridge in the playoff, who Andover only just pipped to the title.
On the evidence of this game though the gap between them is now light years, as the power pace, skill and organisation of Andover simply blew them away.
Playing up the hill and against the wind Andover began well, but rushed possession a little and spurned some early chances, before great work from Nic Reed and Andy Franklin led to the opener.
Old Tons kicked a penalty soon after, but were already struggling to contain the Andover pack and when Wilding finished a pushover try on the half hour the writing was firmly on the wall.
From another short scrum Wilding put Sammy Froggett in for the first of his tries and just before the break a superb lineout move, saw Alex Kane set Froggett free to feed Niko Rowe for a superb try converted by Charlie Waite.
With slope and wind in their Favour Andover poured forwards and when a great Ariel steal from Charlie Waite, led to a series of short scrums the result was again inevitable as Wilding once again finished the pushover.
Reed, Matt Moore and the excellent Alex Hibidge all made charging runs and as Andover utilised the whole bench, fresh legs added to the Old Tons misery.
Tom Waite grabbed his second try from a catch and drive and then came two moments of class from Roscoe, now at standoff, that had the crowd purring.
Having just been victim of a dangerous tackle that brought Old Ton’s a yellow card, the youngster first provided a delicious pass that set Rowe through unopposed for his second try, before shortly after showing terrific vision to cross chip for Charlie Waite to gather and outsprint the defence.
Andover were now rampant and it was left to old stager Froggett to show he’s lost none of his hunger or finishing prowess.
Great breaks first from the rampaging Tom Waite and then Kane, set the winger up for two splendidly taken tries, to complete a hat trick that had the home crowd roaring in delight.
Charlie Waite added four further conversions for a personal tally of fifteen points to complete Old Tons misery, as Andover move three points clear at the top.
“Next Saturday we have a crunch game at home to Exiles who are third in the league” said Andy Waite afterwards.
“This team of local lads is achieving more than we could have possibly hoped for through sheer hard work and we really want this town to get behind them more.”
“If you can, please come and support your boys in their most important game of the season so far. Kick-off is 2.30pm and entry is free and we would love to have as big a crowd as possible it makes a real difference.”