Ellingham and Ringwood 3 – Andover 40
It was a case of the old master and young apprentice last Saturday as Oakwood sponsored Andover once again overcame stiff opposition on the road, to record a bonus point victory.
Young full back Charlie Waite, continued his education after switching from football with a superb personal performance, but it was the pack led by wily campaigner Marc Wilding who really stole the show, as in both attack and defence the Andover forwards were magnificent.
Two push over tries finished by Wilding and a penalty try were just reward for a pack who were relentless all day, even when being put under intense pressure by a much improved home side.
Indeed Ellingham came into this one full of hope after fielding their strongest side of the campaign and poured forwards early on. They missed an early penalty, but in their first real attack Andover gave warning of what lay ahead.
From a lineout the Billy Pollard and Tom Waite combined in midfield and when Ellingham transgressed at the breakdown, Charlie Waite gave Andover the lead from the penalty.
An early yellow card for Elliott Copestake didn’t help the Andover cause and Ellingham tried to take advantage, but when prop Alex Hibidge and then second row Tom Erskine both made try saving tackles out wide, the scene was set.
Undaunted by being a man down Andover broke free and after the first of several brilliant breaks by stand off Alex Kane, won a scrum inside the Ellingham twenty two. The rest as they say is history, as the Andover juggernaut once again brushed aside an opposition pack.
Charlie Waite converted and after the home side replied with a penalty of their own, he added two further kicks as Andover turned the screw. Soon after Andover lost Pollard to a yellow card, which slowed them down until half time, but it was a brief respite for Ellingham.
At the break Andover replaced Copestake with Martin Smiles and Carl Sievewright with the ‘mobile monster’ that is prop Nic Reed.
The ‘All Blacks’ restored to full strength went straight for the throat.
From the kick off Andover turned over ball and hit Reed up the middle. A scrum was awarded and once again the inevitable happened. Soon after the Andover pack were at it again and this time the referee awarded a penalty try which Charlie Waite converted.
Andover were now clear and only the bonus point was in question, but not for long as the try of the game soon followed.
From a lineout the ball fizzed to Kane, whose pace once again undid the home defence.
Andy Franklin switched play back to James Dawson and when first Erskine and then Simon Preece showed deft hands, the ball came to Charlie Waite.
With two defenders still to beat the seventeen year old showed terrific power and pace to run round the defence for a lovely score he converted himself.
Ten minutes later he was once again on hand to complete some fine forward play. Andover won a lineout and drove for the line.
From the resulting ruck Tom Waite broke blind and with a lovely backhanded offload unselfishly put his brother in the corner, to complete an impressive personal haul of twenty five points.
Ellingham to their credit never gave up and threw everything at Andover to try and get something from the game, but these days Andover are becoming far less generous in defence and once again ended without conceding a try.
Afterwards Coach Andy Waite was full of praise for the whole team, but reserved pride of place for a set of forwards who just improve with every game.
“Just three years ago we came here and lost by seventy points, that is how far this club has travelled since then.”
“We now have a scrum and lineout that is the envy of many teams, but what we have added is a commitment and spirit in defence, that is seeing us win games we would maybe have lost in the past.”
“Our backs coach Sam Froggett should take a lot of credit for this, as he has educated our lads that if we don’t concede soft points life is a lot easier.”
Saturday sees the crunch game v top side Eastleigh at Foxcotte park kick off 2.00 pm. Andover could leap frog their old rivals as the race for the title reaches the half-way point.
“All support possible would be most welcome, as we would love the town to really get behind this bunch of lads, who really are giving everything for the cause.” said Waite.