Andover I 39pts Old Blues 0pts

HSA sponsored Andover raced to an emphatic victory over London side Old Blues at Foxcotte Park last Saturday to firmly turn up the heat in London League Three (SW).

From start to finish Andover were unstoppable as they spectacularly avenged their defeat earlier in the season by the visitors.

Andover's rapid improvement under player-coach Keith Mitchell since that early defeat was there for all to see as the town side simply blew away the challenge of their big and dogged opponents.

It's not just that Andover are winning but the style in which they are doing so which is impressive. The town team has clearly learned a lot in their first season at this level and are undoubtedly the form side in the league at the moment.

Even the loss of several first choice players to injury does not seem to disrupt Andover in the way it used to, as players adjust and replacements come and go from the rapidly expanding squad to show just why the commitment being shown in training by the whole club is paying such dividends.

Good examples in this game were the inclusion of Gordon Simmonds at centre for the injured Craig Runciman and Zoe Ball on the wing for the unavailable Sam Froggett.

Ball impressed with two well taken tries whilst Simmonds' direct and committed display ensured that the colossal shoes of Runciman were more than adequately filled.

This confidence in the squad makes Mitchell's job as player-coach so much easier and takes the pressure off of players who need to rest injuries or take a break in an ever more competitive sport.

In the first half Andover produced probably their most controlle 40 minutes of rugby this season. Old Blues scarcely got out of their own half and Andover, despite having a lighter and smaller pack, dominated the forward exchanges and attacked incessantly.

So dominant were they that Andover elected to kick all of their penalties to touch to go for tries rather than kick for goal.

Despite a brave rearguard action by the London side, the pressure eventually told and Andover raced into a lead they never lost.

Skipper Marc Wilding capped an impressive display back on the openside flank by stretching over to score the first try.

Mitchell missed the conversion but was soon given another chance as Ball intercepted a pass on the half way line to run in his first try.

Mitchell converted and soon repeated the dose as Andover added a third try. This time it was the aggressive tackling of Simmonds and fellow centre Nick Rowe that took the plaudits as they jointly unloaded the Old Blues midfield in front of their own posts to allow Matt Nolan to pick up and score. Mitchell again added the extras to give Andover a comfortable 19-0 half-time lead.

After the break Old Blues made more of a game of it but never looked like scoring. Eventually Andover struck again with Mitchell himself going over from close range, and from then on it was just a question of how many.

A neat drop goal from Paul Pereira compounded the visitors' misery and, after Ball had added his second try wide out, the popular Pereira finished the scoring with a try of his own when popping up in close support to the ever willing Alex Mcnair to give Andover a very impressive win indeed.

Andover 1st XV: Worle (A), Nolan, Asuncion; Collins, Griffiths; Wallace, McNair, Wilding (capt); Mitchell (K), Perriera; Ball, Simmonds, Rowe (N), Pearson; Culley. Replacements, Harrison , Butadroka,

Winchester II 5pts Andover II 19pts

In one of their best performances of the season Andover Hinds upset the apple cart by comprehensively beating local rivals Winchester in their own back yard last Saturday.

As if to emphasise the buoyancy in the town club at the moment Andover refused to be intimidated by much bigger opponents and produced a disciplined and pacey display that eventually overwhelmed the home side.

Winchester play two leagues above Andover at 1st XV level but you would never have known it in this combination league fixture as Andover always looked the sharper and better organised outfit.

The forwards were outstanding, winning most of their scrum and lineout ball despite the disparity in size, and in the loose they were simply too quick to the ball for a pedestrian Winchester.

Hooker Lee O'Keefe and the back-row trio of Alec Killick, Alan Brighty and Simon Rowe were particularly impressive and, with the pace of Nathan Tait in the second-row, Andover were able to get numbers to the breakdown so much quicker than Winchester.

Out wide Andover always had the edge with their superior pace and crunching defence, and from the start it was always going to be a question of whether the forwards could give the backs the ball.

Winchester scored first against the run of play with their big pack driving over from a lineout and, with the slope and elements in their favour Andover feared they would repeat the dose at will.

Superb defence however prevented that and when young stand off Chris Reilly cleverly kicked ahead for Fijian winger Met to score a fine try, Andover never looked back. Soon after Reilly himself spectacularly threaded through the narrowest of gaps and raced the length of the pitch to score a try, which he converted himself, to give Andover a lead they never surrendered.

In the second half in truth Andover should have increased their lead considerably as Winchester tired, but eventually had to settle for a further try from Fijian Tiko, again from a kick ahead this time by Met.

Player-coach Andy Waite celebrated his return from injury and the gaining of his intermediate badge this week, by replacing scrum-half Stuart McRae and a third Fijian newcomer Joe replaced the excellent Mark Houghton as everyone enjoyed savouring a splendid victory.

Andover 2nd XV: Bally, O'Keefe (L), Worle (M); Houghton, Tait; Rowe (S), Brighty (A), Killick (capt); McRae, Reilly; Met, Cutler, Tiko, Morris; Piper. Replacements (used): Waite, Joe.