Andover 21 Bognor 5
Oakwood sponsored Andover put the previous week’s disappointment behind them and produced a fine display to beat fellow title contenders Bognor at the Goodship ground last Saturday.
Pocket dynamo Pete Mort led the way with a man of the match display in his first ever first team game at hooker and it was fittingly he who grabbed the try that finally sealed it.
Once again Andover had to battle it out against tough well organised opposition but in the end they ran out more comfortable winners than the score line suggests.
It was a far more mature tactical display by the ‘All Blacks’ who utilised a solid scrum and the boot of Jack Stott to gain territory and in the end Bognor ran out of ideas as they were constantly forced to attack from deep.
It all began so differently as Andover were once again slow out of the blocks and before they could blink the visitors took the lead with a neat try.
That was as good as it got for Bognor though as Andover at first weathered the storm and then through an impressive scrummage and the pace and power of their midfield took control.
Full back Rich Rettalick had a good day with the boot and it was his penalty that reduced arrears.
Then a superb lineout move by Sam Earle saw the ball flash to midfield where Niko Rowe needed no second bidding to power over the line.
Rettalick added the extras and Andover seemed on their way.
Bognor battled hard but with Andover dominating the forward battle despite playing up the slope it looked ominous for them.
Andover however missed guilt edged chances to score from two short scrums and then did not accept an easy penalty chance to leave the visitors still in it at half time.
After the break Bognor again poured forwards but solid defence comfortably kept them at bay.
Andover soon regained control and camped in the Bognor half but some scrappy play and poor handling saw them spurn several great chances to score.
Rettalick crucially extended the lead with two penalties however leaving Bognor with a mountain to climb.
As they pressed, over exuberance at a ruck saw one of their second rows yellow carded and any hope of a bonus point went with him.
Andover took complete control and after a simple chance was missed out wide the forwards had the last word.
Alex Hibidge and the impressive Aaron Hatcher set up a ruck close to the Bognor line and to loud cheers Mort burrowed over for a very popular try.
Afterwards Coach Andy Waite was happy enough “It was a good performance in a different way today” he said.
“We weren’t at our flowing best and we know we can improve in that area but against a tough side we were a lot more tactically astute than we were against Milbrook. The players and coaches worked hard in the week and it’s paid off.”
“We generally made more sensible decisions at key times and in these tight games it’s good to see we are maturing.”
Next week is a break from league action as Andover welcome Southampton Medics in a Hampshire Bowl fixture and a chance to utilise the squad and look at some developing players at first team level.