IT WAS disappointing result for Andover as they returned to league rugby last weekend being beaten 31-17 by visiting Reeds Weybridge.

However, there was much to be optimistic about in a performance that showed real fighting spirit.

Reeds came to the 'Goodship ground having been promoted five times in the past six years and won the national vase at Twickenham in May, but they were given a real run for their money in an encounter that ebbed and flowed.

It was a clash of styles as the fast running visitors met the unstoppable force of the Andover pack and for most of the game honours were even, but in the end Reeds took their scoring chances slightly better than the home side and that was the difference.

Andover started strongly playing down the slope and dominated possession. Harry Batt and Nic Reed carried strongly and on seven minutes, after a series of phases, Simon Preece burrowed over to give Andover a well deserved lead.

Andover pressed again and looked on to increase their lead, when a misplaced pass wide gave Reeds an interception they were not going to waste.

They converted to lead and soon stretched the advantage with their best try of the game.

A series of phases drew in the home defence and as the ball flashed wide Andover ran out of cover.

A series of lineout drives and scrums saw Andover go close on several occasions, before man of the match James Smith eventually touched down a five meter scrum with Rich Retallick adding the extras.

Andover pressed again and had great field position, but wrong options cost them dear as chances went begging.

Reeds took full advantage to grab another score against the run of play which they converted but Andover soon hit back again.

After a series of penalties Andover set up a maul, Tom Waite broke and galloped 30 metres to set up a ruck from which skipper Alex Hibdige dived over for the score.

With just two points in it at the break the game was in the balance.

With the slope in favour Reeds looked to impose themselves up front, but Andover were having none of it, dismantling their scrum and dominating the lineout and driving mauls.

Reeds tried to go wide, but in defence the tackling of Billy Pollard, Callum Farr and Kyle Hookway in particular was impressive and when they did break through the immovable barrier of Retallick stopped them in their tracks.

It was ironic therefore that it was a mistake at a lineout that finally handed them another try to stretch the lead.

This led to Andover having to play catch up and prompted by the excellent Harrison Pape at half back they immediately roared back.

Andover pressed repeatedly but as their catch and drive maul was repeatedly dropped by Reeds, controversially no yellow card was produced and the visitors survived.

Then as Andover poured forwards again the ball was judged to be held off the floor and Reeds escaped the danger.

Reeds managed to break out and score again and Andover needed to score to at least gain bonus points.

They bravely gave everything, but several times more were thwarted by desperate defence, some poor options and some debatable decisions at the break down.

Reeds survived and Andover were left frustrated and empty handed.

Afterwards Director of rugby Andy Waite said: "We feel we've made good progress. Reeds were a very good side and we felt in the main we contained them well and dominated them up front.

"On another day we could have sneaked it but we do need to be more patient when we are in good positions and make sure we take the points on offer."