ANDOVER RFC booked their place in the Hampshire Bowl semi-final after a 31-24 victory at Milbrook, which sets up a final four home showdown with Portsmouth on February 8.

In a tough physical and end to end encounter, Andover emerged worthy winners away to Milbrook in the Hampshire Bowl last Friday evening.

In their first ever competitive game under lights, it did not take the ‘All Blacks’ long to adjust as Tom Waite went over for a neat score from a lineout move.

This would be the story of the evening though, Andover relaxed made an error and the home side made them pay to draw level.

Andover took the chance in this game to look at the wider squad and with Paddy Holmes, Marc Chilleck and Conor Green all impressing, there is plenty of food for thought going forwards.

But it was perhaps the form of young Sean Higgins that caught the eye most, as the colts scrum half played with a maturity beyond his years and showed what Andover have to look forward to as he develops further.

With James Smith and Fin Waite dominating the lineout, Andover had plenty of ball.

Holmes carried hard in midfield and from that good position Conor went through several tackles to underline his credentials with a fine try.

Milbrook found it tough to cope with the sheer power of Nic Reed in the loose and when skipper Alex Hibdige capitalised from one of his breaks to score a third try, Andover looked confident.

Just before the break however another daft piece of play under their own posts however turned the ball over and Milbrook kept themselves in it with a well taken score.

In the second half Andover used their full bench and Marc Vignaux impressed on the wing.

Andover again enjoyed lots of possession and when a neat cross kick by Harrison Pape saw Alex Arter score a fourth try Andover finally looked to have secured the game.

Not so though as almost immediately a silly penalty and back chat gave Milbrook field position and from the ensuing maul, Vignaux was unlucky to see yellow and Milbrook grabbed their third of the game.

The big home pack smelt blood and went for the visitors who could not keep them at bay and soon their fourth try brought them to within two points.

Andover regrouped, Young Bryn Waite entered the fray and Carl Sievewright made his long awaited return at tight head as Andover regained some control.

Smith, the ever reliable Billy Pollard and Josh Gibbs all did well, but it was Reed, causing mayhem in midfield, who finally put the game to bed with a bullocking run for Andover’s fifth and final try.

The impressive Rich Rettalick added three conversions to give Andover a deserved but hard earned semi final date with Portsmouth.

Afterwards Director of rugby Andy Waite said: "This was a potential banana skin for us as Milbrook has always been a tough place to come. We did well over all, but we really must cut out our unforced errors and these games won’t be so close. It was the return of Marc Chillick to this level, after years of monumental effort to get himself back here, that was perhaps the most pleasing."