Old Mid Whitgiftian 25 v Andover 19
Oakwood sponsored Andover returned to London league rugby last weekend after an absence of three years, with a long away trip to old Mid Whitgiftian in Croydon.
Although it was not exactly the start Andover wanted, they performed well in parts and gave notice that they are more than capable of being a force in this division.
In truth Andover will have been disappointed to return with just a losing bonus point from this one, but they will also know that once their education is complete at this level, they have the firepower to upset anyone.
The home side began quickly and as Andover struggled to get any ball in the first few minutes they fell behind to a penalty
Andover responded well and soon began to turn the screw with their dominant scrum.
Andover pressed forward repeatedly with Tom Erskine leading the charge and after Dave Catt had gone close a great Tom Waite break set up a chance for Paul Tuinasakea to dive over for a try converted by Rich Woodley.
As they celebrated Andover were caught napping as sloppy defence let Mid Wives in to score almost immediately to retake the lead.
For the rest of the half Andover poured forwards and should have taken at least one of the many chances they had to re take the lead, but a mixture of careless handling and poor options let them down.
Half time came and went and almost from the restart Andover were again caught out from a rare home attack.
Then after Andover missed a penalty of their own, the home team added a third try once again from some very sloppy defending, to put themselves seemingly out of sight.
At last Andover woke up and began to play the kind or rugby they were renowned for last year.
Seventeen year old Charlie Waite came on to the wing for his adult debut and the extra pace he added in attack and defence soon gave the home team more to think about.
A scrum awarded from his kick and chase was beautifully worked by Woodley to the excellent Niko Rowe and his offload gave Sam Froggett a chance he was not going to miss with Woodley again converting.
Sadly in the act of scoring Froggett injured his foot and had to leave the field and as Andover reorganised Midwives pressed and were rewarded with another penalty to make the score 25 – 14.
Undaunted Andover roared back again went close again several times before another slick handling move saw Rowe set up Stefan long for his first try in the first team.
Back within a score Andover hammered the midwives defence but the home side just about held firm for the final few minutes and happily booted the ball into touch to claim the win.
Afterwards Coach Andy Waite said “It was a frustrating game for us as we could and perhaps should have won.”
“At times we were head and shoulders above in most departments except perhaps in the back row loose play and with that dominance we should have scored more tries.”
“We didn’t take our chances however and fell asleep in defence a couple of times and at this level teams will punish that.”
“It was nice to see Charlie and our new full back Tom Jackson make their debuts. All in all there was a lot of promise on show, but we will need to be more composed and clinical as we go forwards.”
This Saturday Andover face the tough challenge of Trojans who were relegated from the division above last year. Kick off at the Goodship ground is at 3.oclock.