Andover 19 Havant 29
Oakwood sponsored Andover took on a full strength Havant first team at Foxcotte Park last Saturday and despite fielding a cobbled together back-line gave the London One side a real fright and most encouragingly destroyed the visitor’s set piece in the second half.
Andover played a mixed squad in the first half to give their whole squad pitch time, whilst the visitors played a much stronger team throughout.
As a result Havant roared into the lead with three first half tries from a very well drilled set of backs, but when Dawson Ratu pulled one back for Andover from an astute Ben Hall kick, it was a clear warning that the London division one club were not going to have it all their own way.
Despite being under the cosh for large periods Andover pulled another try back before the break when Sam Fletcher pounced on a kick charged down by Alex Hibidge and Charlie Waite added the extras.
At halftime Andover went to full strength up front and played the strongest backs available and with the sides now on a more even footing, the change in the game was instant.
Despite going up the slope the Andover forwards began to boss the game through their powerful front five and with Ollie Lindridge ruling the lineout, Havant were starved of the ball their backs needed.
Havant did add another score on a rare attack, but Andover kept their cool and turned the screw on the visitors.
With Tom Waite and Nick Reed outstanding in the loose it was not long before the power told and giant Lock Tom Erskine drove over for a score again converted by Charlie Waite.
Havant to their credit tried to regroup, but every time the game broke down Andover’s dominant pack took the ball away.
Even when Simon Preece was yellow carded reducing the Andover pack to seven it did nothing to even things up. Giant prop Carl Sievewright re-entered the fray and Andover continued to take the ball against the head at will.
With a man down though Andover were unable to break the Havant defence again and the game petered out with Havant just about doing enough to win.
Despite the loss Andover head coach Andy Waite was happy with what he saw.
“Havant are two weeks in front of us in preparation and were at full strength throughout” he said.
“We were very short of backs and bearing in mind they are a division above us anyway, we looked very good, especially in the set piece. There are things to work on but I am really happy with how pre-season is going and I think we can go on our new adventure with real confidence.”