Old Tiffians 27 Andover 22
It was a case of so near but so far for Andover as they again ran London opponents close on their own back yard, but made the long journey home with just a bonus point to show for their efforts.
It was almost déjà vu as the Oakwood sponsored Andover side once more paid the price for conceding careless points in the first half and despite a stirring comeback left themselves with just too much to do.
‘It’s a little frustrating for us’ said Director of Rugby Andy Waite.
‘Tiffs were a very strong side but we outplayed them for large parts of the game and smashed them in the tight play. We have got to be more clinical though and cut out silly mistakes that are hurting us.’
Andover began the game quickly and dominated Tiffs. Two early missed penalty chances however did not turn the pressure into points and Tiffs soon showed they were a very dangerous counter attacking team.
In a bizarre twist Andover were denied a certain try when a scoring pass hit the referee. From the resulting scrum a comedy of errors gifted Tiffs a penalty and from the resulting lineout they struck with a try under the posts.
Almost immediately Andover did the same again this time gifting a scrum ball which the dangerous Tiffs backs took full advantage of.
Ten minutes later it looked all over for the ‘All Blacks’ as once again the home team took full advantage of a cheap penalty to score with a neat wrap around in midfield.
All of a sudden Andover realised that their dominant scrum and superb lineout; where returning skipper Alex Morgan was outstanding; are lethal weapons and for the final ten minutes of the half ripped into a tiring Tiffs pack.
They were rewarded on the stroke of half time with a push over try from Marc Wilding after Tom Waite struck against the head and Andover had hope.
Half time came and went and even though Andover pressed the suicide button to give Tiffs a fourth try after a missed touch kick, they knew they were in business.
With the pack at times running forwards in the scrum Andy Franklin was enjoying lots of ball and when he set Niko Rowe free in midfield the centre made a wonderful break before putting Tom Jackson in for a try well converted by Rich Woodley.
Sensing blood Andover pressed again and after Simon Preece, Alex Hibidge and Nick Reed had made ground with bullocking runs, another scrum had the inevitable result with Wilding once again touching down and Woodley adding the extras.
Just as at Mid Whitgiftian two weeks ago however Andover lost concentration at a vital moment and conceded a silly penalty to give Tiffs breathing space.
Undaunted Andover poured forwards and after Woodley had secured a bonus point with a penalty of his own Andover went at Tiffs for the win.
Time was against them however and as the final whistle went it really was a case of what might have been.
Afterwards Waite reflected ‘We continue to show that we really are a dangerous side well capable of playing at this level and a bonus point away is not a bad effort.’
‘As our education continues I’m sure we will learn to control possession better at key times and give ourselves a chance to turn these narrow defeats into victories.’
Next is a rest week from league rugby before the home fixture versus Teddington on Saturday 11th October KO 3.00pm.