Andover 38 v Trojans 7
Any doubts that Andover can be a threat at this level were firmly dispelled at the Goodship ground last Saturday as the ‘Hampshire All Blacks’ sent a disappointing Trojans side packing with a sparkling display of rugby.
A mix of power, pace and guile was far too much for the visitors from start to finish, as Oakwood sponsored Andover ran in six tries and could indeed have had more.
A large noisy crowd welcomed Andover to the pitch for their first home game of the season and they were treated to some awesome forward play as Andover turned the screw right from the kick off.
Andover suffered a lot of disruption in the lead up to the game due to injury and unavailability and were indebted to coach Marc Wilding who agreed to make his retirement only partial for this game and Sam Froggett who bravely turned out with a foot injury.
On the plus side Andover welcomed back the enigmatic Alex Kane from holiday, centre James Dawson and powerful forwards Nic Reed and Matt Moore who have both just become fathers.
The game began well for Andover as Trojans messed up the kick off and that set the pattern for the game.
Despite playing up the slope Andover went forwards from the first scrum and moments later from a second scrum in the Trojans twenty two, the ball was fizzed wide to winger Dave Catt who outpaced the cover to open the scoring.
Rich Woodley slotted a fine conversion to give Andover the ideal start.
Soon after Trojans missed a penalty of their own and from the resulting kick, Tom Erskine’s huge hit on the catcher sent notice that he is returning to his menacing best.
He was soon at it again combining superbly with Nic Reed to give Billy Pollard a chance that was just held up.
Moments later from the resulting scrum, the excellent Tom Waite struck against the head and Wilding led the charge for a push over try.
Soon after Kane showed why he us so vital to the cause this season.
Receiving a slow pass he superbly dummied and broke blind to set Froggett away for a trademark score.
Trojans tried to respond and were just wide with another penalty chance, but when they lost a player to a yellow card for a high tackle on Kane, Andover were soon at them again.
Wilding was again in the thick of it and after a superb spell of pressure he broke from a ruck to add his second score which Woodley converted from wide out.
Half time came and went and soon after the visitors were given a glimmer of hope when Kane was harshly judged to have obstructed a Trojans player when winning a foot race to a kick ahead.
He was yellow carded and a penalty try awarded but that was a good as it got for the visitors.
Despite being a man down Andover continued to dominate possession as Moore and Paul Tuinsakea added impact from the bench and before long Trojans cracked again.
This time after another fine strike against the head Catt finished excellently in the corner to confirm his progress as a first choice winger and Woodley again converted superbly.
At this point Andover began to run riot and treated the crowd to some real entertainment, indeed only their own over exuberance at times prevented a much larger scoreline.
Huge defensive hits from Tuinasakea and Waite also attracted loud cheers and in the end it was fitting that it was Wilding who had the last word with another push over try, showing that sometimes simple physical dominance can be just as rewarding as champagne rugby.
Afterwards director of rugby Andy Waite was full of praise for his side “It’s been a difficult week selection wise but we got there in the end, so to see this performance at the end of it was really pleasing.”
“I thought Marc gave us a lot of control up front but I have to take my hat off to the front five who were awesome. Carl Sievewright and Alex Hibidge were so destructive and we now have the strength in depth up front to worry anyone.”
“I thought Tom Jackson was impressive in the centre so we also have the cover there now that we need going forwards.“