Andover 17 – 15 Winchester RFC
Andover scored 3 trys and confounded expectation to beat Winchester 17 – 15 in their first derby win for 12 years. Andover wing Fin Waite intercepted a pass from Winchesters fly half Jesse Ribeiro to sprint home and turn the game on its head in the second half. Christmas had arrived and Andover proceeded to dig deep and do what they do well, push opposition teams down the hill to defeat.
Winchester’s Captain Jim Beavan, amongst the injured this week, watched from the sidelines “When we were clearly on top in the first half, we didn’t score enough points. With the benefit of the hill they were always going to be stronger in the second half.” The result begs the question, what do Winchester have to do to win in a game where they were clearly the smarter, faster, better team.
In the first half Winch had 90% of the territory and possession yet only once did they manage to cross the line. After a shaky start in the lineout, Matt Golding stole the ball on Andover’s throw to set up a drive that pressed ahead enabling the excellent Alec Hiscock to score on his debut at prop. Ollie Dunger’s conversion bounced off the posts. Winchester’s forwards were spectacular in the first half as Rob Rees, Campbell Ettinger and Golding punched holes in the defence. Any attack was quickly snuffed out by Tom Williams, Gareth Martin and the ubiquitous Steve Walker.
They were giving half backs Patch Cheshire and Jesse Ribeiro plenty of opportunity which they duly took, moving the game around and enabling their backs to run at pace into the opposition 22, and they could have scored a hat full before half time. If this was a boxing match, then Andover were on the ropes, with men going down under the pressure. But Winch couldn’t deliver a knock out blow; time after time the ball slipped forward, was dropped or driven into touch when it seemed easier to score. They ended the half 8 – 0 as Dunger struck with a penalty from well within his range.
Beavan acknowledged that the game plan was to up the tempo in the second half, to wear them out. But after the breakaway try everything changed. Impact plays that had been so positive in the first half faltered and turned into penalties as Andover sensed a change in their fortunes. Rob Becher, back from injury, came on as Winch rallied to stem the downhill surge. He lasted two minutes before being shown a yellow card for a questionable offence. “Once they start travelling down the hill, they are an incredibly hard team to stop, particularly when Winch played for 20 minutes with seven forwards.”
The game became a slugging match with Andover taking every opportunity to scrum the ball and gain territorial advantage from the resulting penalties. The next score would be crucial and Andover beat Winch to the punch. A try by Tom Waite, out wide after concerted pressure, took them into a 12 - 8 lead. Andover’s heads were up but Winch were far from being out of the game. They came back with what little ball they had as they tried to deal with the 10 man game.
The Winchester forwards took the fight running straight to the opposition when perhaps they would have been better running the ball from side to side, wearing the opposition down. That they didn’t showed some inexperience. Anxiety began to undermine Winchester’s efforts, simple opportunities were missed as fine runs faded, with kicks to nowhere and wild passes. Golding left the field after a yellow card was shown for an accumulation of penalties as Winch tried to come out fighting. Scrum pressure was against them, and they conceded a third decisive try to go 17 – 8 down.
Beavan saw some consolation at the death as Winch played a couple of phases of controlled possession in the Andover 22, stretched the opposition enabling dynamic hooker Alex Lee to go over for a score under the posts,that Dunger converted in the eightieth minute. “We showed how easy it would have been if we had only stretched them.”
It was too little, too late. Winch had always looked capable of scoring if only they had kept the ball, but players, desperate to regain that winning feeling, perhaps tried too hard, allowing Andover to win ugly, but to win and climb the league table.
Trys: Hiscock, Lee
Andover: Trys x3 Conversion x1
Updated 12:35 - 17 Dec 2017 by derek Cheshire
O Dunger, T Forster, J Tolan, A Bayliss, C Preston, J Ribeiro, P Cheshire, A Hiscock, A Lee, T Williams, M Golding, C Ettinger, R Rees, S Walker, G Martin
Substitutes: J Alfandari, B Turner, R Becher[/i]