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All Blacks take win after close battle
1:50pm Wednesday 20th February 2013 in Andover
Andover 24 Milbrook 21.
Andover returned to winning ways at the Goodship Ground last Saturday in a close fought encounter with a powerful Milbrook side.
The visitors beat Andover on their own turf earlier in the season and were looking to complete the double.
With the experience of Marc Wilding back at the helm, however, the All Blacks showed the extra control needed to win tight games which had been lacking in recent weeks. “Marc’s experience, both as a player and leader is invaluable on the pitch,” said coach Andy Waite. “The youngsters can learn so much from him and he gives that knowhow when it gets tough, that you need against experienced opponents.” Milbrook provided a stern test in the end for Andover who just about edged it in most areas, but a nervy second half made the scoreline closer than it should have been and in the end the home side were grateful for the final whistle.
Playing up the slope Andover started superbly and after 12 minutes of almost constant pressure Wilding crashed over from a short scrum after Simon Preece had gone close.
Jack Stott slotted the conversion and soon after the combination of an Alex Kane kick and Dave Catt chase again proved fruitful for Andover’s second try. Stott was again successful and it seemed Andover were well on the way.
To their credit Millbrook tried to come back, but some superb defence kept them at bay.
Both sides exchanged penalties but Andover, with Aaron Hatcher, Matt Moore and Tom Waite all prominent in the loose, finished the half stronger and looked good for a win.
After the break nerves and lack of discipline almost cost Andover again as they tested the patience of the excellent Berkshire official Grant Phillips. Having missed a penalty of their own Andover quickly conceded one and then added to their woes after further indiscretions led to good field position for Milbrook, from which they crashed over for a try.
They didn’t learn and soon gave away another three points for arguing with the official, who rightly marched them back into kicking distance.
Andover finally regained their composure and started to use their powerful scrummage, where Alex Hibdidge shone, to good effect.
Milbrook again looked vulnerable and Andover, with Kane prompting everything, began to dominate.
It didn’t turn into points however until with just five minutes left a superb break from Todd O’Malley put replacement winger Elliott Copestake clear to score under the posts. Stott added the extras and Andover seemed home and dry.
Milbrook threw caution to the wind for the last couple of minutes and were rewarded with a try in the final move of the game as Andover fell asleep in defence, but it was not quite enough and they had held on for a much needed victory.
Full page of reports from Hampshire's All Blacks in Friday's Advertiser