Andover 71 Isle of Wight 0.

Stand-in skipper Marc Wilding had a 40th birthday to remember as Andover stormed to victory against a brave but outgunned Isle of Wight on Saturday.

Wilding staged his own celebration with a hat-trick of tries.

He wasn’t alone as fellow back rower Simon Preece also crossed three times.

And, not to be totally outdone, the third of the back row trio, Paul Tuinasakea, grabbed a well taken brace.

Wilding had a superb day, ruling the lineout and running the play from the number eight berth as Oakwood sponsored Andover ran amok.

Despite high winds and rain Andover produced some devastating rugby to run in 13 unanswered tries and only horrendous kicking conditions saved the visitors from further misery.

Andover made several changes due to injury and unavailability but, with the excellent Callum Staff returning to the backline along with Billy Pollard and 18-year old Colts’ scrum half Dan Farr also looking very comfortable at this level, the depth of their squad is there for all to see.

Tuinasakea opened the scoring in the corner after just two minutes and, four minutes later, Wilding scored his first from a pushover scrum.

Soon after, Jack Stott set up Preece for his first.

Wilding then got his second from a lineout drive and Preece did likewise after Staff was clotheslined when certain to score from his own kick ahead.

A yellow card followed for the visitors and, just two minutes later, Tuinsakea made the Island side pay further with his second after being superbly set up by Nic Reed.

After the break, with the slope in their favour, the Andover scrum was almost running forwards and referee Stephen O’Brien kept play flowing superbly by being very sharp at the breakdown.

After just ten minutes Wilding completed his scoring from another short scrum, before Tuinasakea fed Rich Retallick to score under the posts.

Winger Dave Catt was next up striking from 50 metres, before Pollard and Staff again combined for Stott to go over.

Staff was soon at it again, putting Farr in for a debut try before grabbing his own score after a great Martin Smiles break.

He then provided Preece with the final word as the Isle of Wight completely ran out of steam.

Retallick added three conversions but also claimed the strangest hat-trick of the day striking the uprights with three other attempts in a dreadful day for kickers.

Afterwards coach Andy Waite was very happy with the performance.

“With all the changes and uncertainty with the weather, we did very well to focus today” he said. “The conditions were difficult, but we played some very impressive stuff at times.

‘The tight play was superb and we used all of the possession very well and it was nice to give Dan Farr his debut and show once again that there is a clear pathway to first team rugby for Academy players who work hard.”

Tomorrow Andover travel to Alton as the league gets tighter at the top.

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