Old Tonbridgians 15 v Andover 41
Richmond Rugby club was the iconic setting as Oakwood sponsored Andover produced a sparkling display of attacking rugby to gain their first away win of the season in stunning style.
The ‘All Blacks’ have learned quickly from their previous two narrow defeats in London and this time were in no mood to give a plucky Tonbridgians outfit any crumb of comfort, as they dominated the game in every department.
The home side were promoted from Surrey alongside Andover last term after thrashing Fordingbridge in the play off and with that in mind Andover prepared for what was expected to be a tough battle.
In truth though they more than matched Tonbridgians much vaunted backs and simply strangled the life out of them up front, to run out comfortable winners running in six tries in the process.
“I’m absolutely delighted with this performance” said director of rugby Andy Waite afterwards. “This team is developing so much and the ability to recognise strengths and play to a game plan is key to this.”
Andover began the game well controlling possession in the loose where, Tom Erskine and Alex Hibidge were outstanding.
Tonbridgians looked dangerous on the counter and before long only a superb last ditch tackle from Young full back Charlie Waite saved a try.
Andover didn’t heed the warning though and soon after a loose pass led to a breakaway try for the home team. Andover were stung into action and Charlie Waite and his opposite number exchanged penalties, before the Andover dominance began to tell.
Andover forced a series of scrums in the Tonbridgians red zone and the home team crumbled before their power.
A yellow card followed and Andover needed no second bidding.
Alex Kane’s quick feet and pace did the initial damage as he skipped through to set up a chance for Andy Franklin to feed skipper Marc Wilding for the first try.
Soon after Charlie Waite thought he’d scored from his own brilliant counter attack, but as the ref adjudged him to be held up, Wilding was on hand to once again finish the job.
Sensing blood Andover set about dismantling the home pack at scrum time, where Carl Sievewright was at his destructive best and Tom Waite took lots against the head.
With Simon Preece and Billy Pollard revelling in the space being provided it was only a matter of time before Andover scored again.
Great hands again from Kane set Niko Rowe up for his first try and Charlie Waite converted to give Andover a good half time lead.
After the break Andover simply carried on.
A fine line out steal from Wilding saw the ball flash wide to Niko Rowe and his neat pass gave the flying Charlie Waite a chance to make up for his earlier disappointment with a try he converted himself.
Tonbridgians to their credit never gave Andover anything and as the visitors eased off a little they stormed back with a neat try of their own.
They then had their best spell of the game attacking Andover repeatedly to try and get back in it, but superb defence by Taro Rowe and Kane in particular kept them out and the crisis was over.
Andover stormed back and a wonderful move involving Preece and Niko Rowe, saw Erskine feed fellow second row Matt Moore for a lovely try superbly converted by Charlie Waite.
Soon after Taro Rowe was unlucky after a stunning break and offload from Tom Waite and Hibidge went mighty close in the follow up.
Andover were not to be denied however and in the dying moments from yet another scrum offence, Franklin fed Niko Rowe who capped a great display with his second try converted by Charlie Waite.
“Although Charlie was named man of the match by the opposition, there were stars everywhere today” said Andy Waite.
“My personal choice was Niko who was unbelievable considering he was unwell before the game.”
Next Saturday Andover make the journey up the M3 for the fourth time in just six games to take on London Exiles.
“The opening fixtures were not kind to us” said Waite.
“But we have done exceptionally well so far and if we can get anything from Saturday we will be well on our way to securing ourselves in this division, which is our first and main priority this season.“