Andover 25 Old Tiffinians 11
In a fast and furious encounter Oakwood sponsored Andover once again came out on top at Foxcotte Park, this time against fellow promotion hopefuls Old Tiffinians.
It was sweet revenge for Andover who lost the corresponding away fixture earlier in the season, but once again it was by no means plain sailing, as an error strewn first half almost let the visitors get away from them.
It wasn’t that Andover didn’t play well in general terms, but individual errors and some poor decision making cost Andover at least two certain tries and also handed silly points to the visitors at crucial times.
Andover began well enough and attacked constantly, but as they huffed and puffed Old Tiffs gave warning of what they were capable of with their dangerous back row making inroads into the Andover defence.
As Andover’s lack of precision left the game scoreless, Old Tiffs grew in confidence and on 20 minutes their best moment of the game led to a lovely try.
Andover soon compounded this when another error gifted the visitors a further three points on the half hour, as Andover just could not turn their own pressure into points.
As though they smelt the danger Andover suddenly woke from their slumber and from then on showed why they are the league’s top side.
After a spell of constant pressure Charlie Waite finally got the scoreboard ticking with a penalty on the stroke of half time.
Andover brought Nic Reed on at the break and his powerful running soon made inroads into the Old Tiffs defence.
When he was finally stopped Tom Erskine was on hand to continue a forward drive and from the ruck, brilliant handling from Alex Kane and Niko Rowe set Charlie Waite in for a lovely try he converted himself.
Finally in front, Andover should have been on their way, but immediately another error allowed Old Tiffs to add a further three points to retake the lead.
The visitors were starting to show signs of wear and tear from the sheer physicality of Andover however and slowly but surely the Andover forwards began to take control.
As Old Tiffs gave away a string of penalties Charlie Waite again put the ‘All Blacks’ in front and Andover then began to dominate in familiar fashion.
George Roscoe entered the fray for his first team debut and was soon in the thick of it as Alex Kane succumbed to injury, leaving the 18 year old colt the only option for stand-off.
He didn’t disappoint, soon getting the impressive Rowe running hard in midfield and from his break, Reed almost made the line before Marc Wilding finally touched down.
Now firmly on the front foot Andover went for broke with Rowe and Tom Waite charging through the increasing space in the loose.
Roscoe and Charlie Waite combined, but a deliberate knock on foiled them and from the penalty that followed Andover put the game to bed.
Wilding was once again the finisher of a text book catch and drive converted by Charlie Waite and only the bonus point was left to play for.
With minutes left both sides went for it, but neither could break through as time ran out.
“I think that was a very good win in the circumstances” said coach Andy Waite.
“We had one or two who looked like they’d had too good a Christmas and were a little off the pace with their skill levels, but we stuck at it and in the end beat a very good side full of skilful and quick players.”
“We know we can do a lot better, but what we don’t lack is the heart for the fight.”