Cobham were required to make a number of positional changes to the team as a consequence of injuries and non availability. This gave Director of Rugby Steve Pope the opportunity to give debuts to two Cobham Ex-youth players, Chris Lippiatt at prop and Hugh Farmer on the subs bench.
Having overcome Portsmouth the previous week and despite the changes confidence in the Cobham camp was high However when you are sitting at the top of the league you are going to be a target for clubs looking to prove themselves and Andover achieved that and more in one of the most exciting games seen at Cobham for some time with the lead changing six times.
The game started slowly with Andover taking advantage of a high penalty count from Cobham but being unable to gain territory or breach the Cobham defenses. It took ten minutes before they were in the Cobham half. Both sides missed early penalty kicks Ollie Weir hitting the posts for Cobham before Andover achieved the all important first penalty score . 0-3
It looked as if that would be the half time score line as the clock ticked down but shortly before half time the home side chose a line out from a penalty, close to the Andover line and having secured possession Robbie Kennard dived over with a trademark try. 5-3.
An injury to Matt Koep gave Hugh Farmer his debut but it was bringing Charlie Rooke into the back row which was to make an early difference as the second half started.
Possession for Cobham had been in short supply in the first forty minutes but when it was obtained the back line combination of Matt Goddard and Johhny Wehbe had looked menacing. It was from a turnover and Wehbe break feeding to Goddard that led to Rooke finishing under the posts Weir converting 12-3 and within minutes Goddard had burst through himself. Weir achieving the conversion from wide out 19-3.
Having broken the dam Cobham might have been expected to go onto finish the game but with a yellow card to hooker Josh Brown and Andover exerting pressure a converted try was achieved 19-10. Andover's next score came from lost possession by Cobham in mid field and with the conversion the visitors were showing resolve and determination befitting their 'All Black' strip. With a penalty secured shortly afterwards Andover had recovered the lead 19-20.
With ten minutes to the final whistle Cobham knew they needed to respond forcefully and once again a Wehbe break supported by Kennard enabled number 7 Joe Davis to score under the posts Weir converting 26-20.
On any other day this season the Cobham supporters might have expected the game to be closed out but Andover were not reading the same script. Max Macdonald provided a try saving tackle but taking advantage again of lost possession Andover edged in front 26-27.
No one watching the game would have begrudged Andover if that had been the score at the final whistle as they were worthy opponents but Wehbe feeding Macdonald to dive over and score with an outstretched hand in the final few minutes had another ending.in mind. 33-27.
Fifty two points in 40 minutes wasnt expected at the half way stage and the game provided excellent entertainment for the home, away and neutral supporters at the Memorial Grounds
15.Jean Louis Gravier
Tries :- Kennard, Rooke, Goddard,David,MacDonald
Conversions:- Weir ( 4)