Driffield travelled to local rivals Bridlington on Saturday for the encounter at Dukes Park. The hosts always provide the toughest of challenges and this was to prove no different. The last three fixtures between the sides have been the annual Turnbull Trophy matches which have all gone deservedly to Bridlington. This was a chance for coaches Cooper, Mitchell-Williams and McClarron to try and right the balance. They are all wily enough to know the size of the task as they themselves have experienced the challenge of many visits to Bridlington. This time there were league points at stake. Changes for Driffield from last week’s victory over Bradford saw Dinsdale on the wing, Ryan Murray in at fly-half, Nellen starting at loose-head and James Dinsdale the elder, onto the bench.
From the kick-off, both sides started testing each other with their kicking games. One aerial bombardment from Bridlington saw Stephenson take one steepling kick brilliantly under pressure, and clear the danger through the backs. Driffield’s defence, always a strength, had started well. The Driffield pack looking fitter than last term, after a tough pre-season and took first honours at scrum time, when after 5 minutes, they forced the opposition eight back at a fair rate only for it to wheel, and Bridlington clear the danger. A short while later Dench made a telling burst down the middle of the park. He handed on to close support. The Driffield forwards created a ruck close to the try line, and a combined surge saw Nellen taken over for the try. Converted by Murray.
Driffield 7 Bridlington 0
Driffield’s scrummage continued to apply pressure, but Bridlington managed to control their ball despite retreating. Their backs moved the ball quickly but Driffield’s organisation, and the reassuring presence of Piercy, Furbank and Dinsdale in the back three nullified their efforts. Bridlington made promising ground down the left, when they moved the ball back across the Driffield defence Stephenson, ever the opportunist, spotted the interception to perfection and ran a full 80 metres to dot down under the posts. Murray added the extras.
Driffield 14 Bridlington 0
With Dench and Murray alternating in the fly-half pivot role, Driffield were keeping the opposition guessing. Bridlington created their own pressure and on one incursion into the Driffield half caught the visitors off-side. Their reliable kicker Mellonby kicked their opening points.
Driffield 14 Bridlington 3
Driffield continued to make good inroads with some good carries by props Nellen and Pettinger, with Cooper ever willing to take the ball up. The team still have a habit of slight inaccuracy in the final off-load which can detract from some great build-up work. On 27 minutes Rob Mewburn went down with a concerning ankle injury, but in customary fashion he shrugged it off, refusing to be replaced. Murray proved he has an enormous boot and made fully 60 metres with one clearance from a defensive scrum. On 32 minutes he added 3 points from the tee, from 40 metres.
Driffield 17 Bridlington 3
Against a tough set of forwards, the Driffield supporters saw some great industry from Turner and Rob Mewburn, both very competitive at the breakdown. George Mewburn always threatening on the burst. On a dangerous break from their own half, the referee signalled a high tackle against Bridlington. Murray went for a snap drop-goal and added 3 points.
Driffield 20 Bridlington 3
As the first half closed out, another Driffield move saw the ball moved out to Ben Dinsdale. Using his pace he cut inside, but good Bridlington defence earned them a penalty for a failure to release the ball in the tackle. Perhaps another lost opportunity. However a good first half, with the front row of Nellen, Brumfield and Pettinger showing ever increasing maturity, and Brumfield’s customary steal against the head featuring.
Half Time – Driffield 20 Bridlington 3
Early exchanges in the second half were equal. Dodds was showing some class touches about the park. He has mastered that ancient art of mauling, added to some imperious work in the lineout. The back row were again competitive, and George Mewburn brought off a great clear-out at a ruck earning a penalty for the visitors. The Driffield backs were being marshalled well by Dench and Stephenson, and Piercy looked as reliable as ever. On 50 minutes the coaches made changes with Blenkinsop on for Pettinger and 5 minutes later, James Dinsdale on for Cooper. Bridlington however, were managing to claw their way back into the game. A good break into the Driffield half saw the ball swiftly moved to their powerful centre Martin who cut a great line inside on the 22 to score near the posts. Mellonby added the points.
Driffield 20 Bridlington 10
Bridlington went straight back on the attack and only good defence and one stunning tackle from Turner kept them at bay. On 65 minutes Dench was yellow carded for failing to release the player in the tackle. Down by a man, the situation looked ominous for Driffield as Bridlington strove for a second try. At a line-out close to the visitors line Bridlington set up their renowned driving maul, but Driffield’s defence pulled out all of the stops and created a great turnover. A short while later Bridlington got their reward with a well earned try close to the posts, converted by Mellonby
Driffield 20 Bridlington 17
Bridlington sensed a last gasp victory was close. Driffield supporters had to turn away when, at a ruck close to their try line, a Bridlington forward picked up at the ruck and went over untouched. Luckily for Driffield, the referee Mr White had spotted a Bridlington infringement and gave a penalty to Driffield. The visitors rallied and on 74 minutes the Driffield pack summoned a great last effort, and with some quality rucking Gray rounded off a good display with their final try. Murray converted.
Final Score Driffield 27 Bridlington 17.
This had been a nail biter of a derby for both sets of supporters. On the day Driffield had just edged it, but only by small margins. Two tough victories under their belt and with newly-promoted West Leeds the visitors next week, head coach Stuart Cooper has plenty of preparations in hand for their visit.