Basingstoke 0 Andover 37
History was made by Oakwood sponsored Andover last weekend as they not only met Basingstoke in a league match for the very first time, but smashed them out of sight in a performance of real class and authority.
Just two short years ago, whilst Andover were scoring a hundred points against Alton in Hampshire league rugby, Basingstoke were one of the top clubs in London South division one, looking for promotion back to the national league from which they had come.
The turnaround for both clubs in such a short space of time is remarkable and from an Andover perspective is a triumph for a community based club that goes from strength to strength at every level.
Hampshire under 20 full back Charlie Waite grabbed the headlines for Andover, with an assured all round performance, including two tries and a personal haul of twenty two points.
Much of the time though, it fell to him to simply finish some brilliant work carried out by many of his team mates, as Andover blew the home side away with a display of pace and power that most teams in this league would have struggled with.
The forwards dominated every facet of the game, with giant prop Carl Sievewright in particular revelling in a rare start to produce a wrecking ball of a performance in both the tight and loose.
Hooker Tom Waite shared his taste for blood with another all action display and with Ollie Lindridge and Simon Preece ruling the lineout, Andover had plenty of possession.
Nic Reed, Alex Hibidge and Tom Erskine all carried strongly and with all this ball, half backs Kieran Jenvey and Callum Staff between them orchestrated a splendid first half.
From the off it was all Andover leading to two early Charlie Waite penalties.
The home side came back hard to show they would be no pushover, but found the Andover defence in no mood to concede anything. Preece turned over the ball in defence and the threat was passed.
Then on twenty minutes came a try that would have graced any game. From eighty meters out Ed Williams broke, turned his defender inside out, fed Jenvey, who in turn set Sam Froggett away before Charlie Waite sprinted in under the posts for a try he converted himself.
Andover sensed the kill and replaced the power of Sievewright who had done his job superbly, with the extra mobility of Matt Moore.
With scrum and lineout crushing the home side, it was Froggett again who showed the way with an excellent line off of Staff to add a second try, again converted by Charlie Waite.
Andover were now rampant and with man of the match Niko Rowe tearing huge holes in the home defence it wasn’t long before Andover struck again.
This time the excellent Jack Stott’s pace and quick feet did the damage before Charlie Waite again finished neatly.
In the third quarter the game stagnated a little as Andover pinned the home side back and tried to bludgeon their way over for a bonus point with their powerful scrum.
A disallowed effort from Tom Waite and a curious penalty allowed Basingstoke to survive, so another plan was called for.
Alex Kane entered the fray after a long injury lay off and Hampshire under 18 back rower Jordan Gray continued his development, replacing the hard working Ash Gait.
Both added fresh impetus as Andover went all out for the bonus point fourth try.
With fifteen minutes to go another fine Rowe break created space for Kane and from a ruck Preece smashed his way over for the vital try converted by Charlie Waite.
Andover pressed again, but just as the game looked like it would peter out, a last moment of magical team play sent the large contingent of Andover fans home in raptures.
This time Charlie Waite turned provider. From a deep kick he cleverly took a quick tap, before launching the ball fifty metres upfield.
The ever willing Erskine grabbed the bouncing loose ball and fed Waite who had sprinted to support his kick and just as he looked like he would be denied in the corner, his offload found Lindridge who dived over for another wonderful try.
After the game coach Andy Waite was full of praise ‘The players were magnificent today in every department. We are still very much a developing squad and when we are on song we play some lovely stuff” he said.
“This was a momentous day for our club and one that has been years in the making by a host of dedicated volunteers. Sixteen of our eighteen players today were home grown and all play for the love of the game.”
“It is remarkable that a totally amateur community club can not only reach these heights, but can perform so strongly and have such depth, that a club the size of Basingstoke can magnanimously say, that this is a model they would like to emulate.”