Hampshire Counties One rugby: New Milton take on powerful Andover side
Hampshire Counties One
Andover RFC 38
New Milton RFC 3
DESPITE the lopsided scoreline, New Milton put in one of their best displays of the season against a powerful Andover side, constantly tackling and winning turnovers.
New Milton made the long haul over to Andover to play the fourth-placed side in the league in damp conditions that affected handling, with the hosts scoring five tries, while Milton blanked.
Andover were quickly into action through their forwards, which contained the front row who played for Hampshire last season, demonstrating their power by initially pushing Milton off any ball.
From a scrum in the Milton 22, their backs ran in a converted try before a penalty award gave Andover a line-out on the halfway line. Milton initially defended well, but a penalty in the ruck led to Andover slotting through the posts.
Milton attacked and made good progress from the kick-off, but a series of back-and-forth turnovers ended with Andover’s backs gaining possession, creating gaps in the defence and running in a converted try.
Milton worked hard, but a yellow card to one of Milton’s props, which they could not replace, created uncontested scrums, meaning they had to lose another outfield player and were two down.
Surprisingly, Milton’s first points of the match arrived in this period after they gained and converted a penalty in the Andover 22.
New Milton hardly noticed the missing players as they were coping well with Andover’s high kicks ahead and the team following up return kicks, but Andover finally gained the advantage when their centre won a race to a low kick ahead, for a converted try.
Milton’s forwards controlled and stifled the efforts of the Andover pack after the restart, which allowed Milton to build good attacks, while sound tackling prevented Andover from scoring during the third quarter.
However, a penalty gave Andover possession in the Milton 22, and from a scrum on the five-metre line, they pushed over for a converted try, which they quickly followed up with another.
A player making his debut for the first team, ex-Colt Reuben Kendall, was New Milton’s man of the match – a feat he achieved with the second team last week.
New Milton is at home on Saturday against Portsmouth at 3pm.
New Milton: R. Pearce, H. Chung, E. Hynd, J. Corbett, G. Short, L. Waugh, R. Kendall, D. Jackson, C. Wood, H. Willis-Finn, J. Eldridge, H. Fitzgerald, C. Hammerstone, T. Gould, D. Thomas. Subs: H. Halligan, L. Day, G. Knight.