Trojans 12 Andover 19
In a tense and nervous encounter, Oakwood sponsored Andover willed themselves to the top of London South West Division three against a tough and much improved Trojans outfit.
Cold away days on boggy pitches in the middle of December, are often where leagues are won and lost and if that is the case, Andover will look back at this potential banana skin as a pivotal moment in their season.
For as Andover kept their cool to overcome this difficult challenge, league leaders Eastleigh could not do the same at home against bottom club Sandown and Shanklin, sending the ‘All Blacks three points clear.
Trojans were at their strongest so far this season and gave Andover a real test up front, especially in the loose where Andover were made to fight hard for possession.
The Andover scrum was well controlled by Simon Preece at the base and the lineout, Where Tom Erskine was excellent, was generally sound.
Getting the ball wide however was a different matter and too often Andover were inaccurate and hesitant.
All of that said Andover were always in control of this game and although Trojans threatened a brief comeback, mainly through Andover’s ill-discipline, the three try to nil count reflected the limited quality that was on show.
Andover began strongly and after just twelve minutes Hooker Tom Waite finished some excellent work from Erskine and Ash Gait to give them the lead.
Ten minutes later Andover looked like they had taken complete control, when Preece showed he is growing into the number eight shirt, scoring a neat try from a short scrum converted by Martin Smiles.
Much to the disappointment of Coach Andy Waite however, instead of piling on the misery, Andover seemed to become complacent and the game was dragged into a midfield dog fight.
Ill-discipline led to a string of Trojans penalties and a yellow card for Tom Waite, and the excellent home kicker took full advantage pulling his side back to within three points with three successful kicks.
Andover suddenly awoke to the danger and led by the inspirational Alex Kane, began to reassert much needed control.
Good field position from a lineout led to a fine drive by Preece.
From the ruck Andy Franklin flashed the ball out and Niko Rowe powered through several defenders to score a lovely try converted by replacement Charlie Waite.
That moment of brilliance by Rowe however was as good as it got, as Andover just could not fully shake off their malaise.
Indeed it was Trojans who had the last laugh grabbing a much needed and deserved bonus point, with yet another penalty on the stroke of full time.
Afterwards Coach Andy Waite was relieved, but not entirely happy.
“When you look at what has happened elsewhere we have to be pleased with the outcome” he said.
“But it was a frustrating performance today and we have to understand that as you go up the levels, you have no right to anything, you have to earn everything.”
“We did enough today, but no more and didn’t get a bonus point as a result, which could be important in the shakeup.”
“I suppose it’s the mark of a good side though, that you win when you’re not playing well and lets be fair, to be top of this league at Christmas is way above our expectation so we can’t be too critical.”
Andover are next in action at home on 10th January against Old Tiffinians and will be looking to put this one firmly behind them.