Driffield made the short trip to Malton for our 3rd derby of the season
Drifffield travelled to Malton at the weekend to take on one of their fiercest rivals in North East 1.
Malton, who were promoted from the league below at the end of last season had made a mixed start having won one and lost 3 games with their first victory at home to Dinnington last Saturday. Driffield had played Malton in the Yorkshire Cup 1st round at the beginning of the season, when Driffield had won a close encounter.
Team changes showed Robinson in the centre for the unavailable Stephenson. Burns moved into the 2nd row with Brankley taking the No 8 berth. On the bench were 3 forwards, Blenkinsop, Cooper and Pettinger, who has returned after 5 weeks following injury. The Driffield coaches expected a tough battle at the set piece and had selected a bench in anticipation of this.
From the kick-off Driffield forwards set up a series of drives, testing the Malton defence. This resulted in a scrum with a put-in to to Malton. The Malton front five have already developed a reputation as a good scrummaging unit this season and this was shown in the first encounter as they drove the Driffield scrum backwards. The Malton backs moved the ball quickly, but the Driffield backs countered the move with some good cover defence.
A short while later a second scrum, this time to Driffield, led to a collapsed scrum signalled by the referee with a penalty being given to Malton.
Early exchanges were fairly even with Burns taking some good lineout ball, and Brigham at fly half playing himself into the game. What became apparent was the dominance of the Malton scrum. Driffield managed to make some inroads into the Malton 22, setting up a ruck 10 metres out. The attack looked promising, but Malton counter-rucked , managed to hack the ball downfield leading to desperate cover by the Driffield defence who managed to clear the immediate danger.
After 11 minutes a scrum to Malton close to Driffield’s try line lead to another collapse, with a penalty given to Malton, who opted for the scrum to be retaken. From the put-in, Malton again drove Driffield pack backwards and their scrum half went over for a try to the right of the posts. The conversion was missed. Driffield 0 Malton 5
Driffield came back from the restart and managed to gain some territory in the Malton half. Some good driving work by the pack lead to a penalty to Driffield. From a resultant lineout, Malton countered strongly, the ball was moved wide and their lively left wing was hauled down at the last gasp, close to the Driffield line, saving a near try. This resulted in a scrum awarded to Driffield. Malton seemed to get the initial shove on, but once again the scrum collapsed. The referee awarded a penalty to Driffield for the Malton tight head prop not pushing straight.
The collapsed scrum was to become a feature of this game, because another penalty was soon awarded this time to Malton some 40 metres out, with Malton narrowly missing the penalty attempt. Malton maintained their territorial advantage and only some great defensive covering by Driffield winger Dinsdale cleared a dangerous move close to the Driffield left hand corner.
Throughout the early Malton pressure, Driffield’s cover defence was once again of a high standard. At about 30 minutes, Driffield made changes with Cooper for Borman and Blenkinsop for Dervey. Driffield were once again pressured at a scrum midway in their own 22. From the ensuing ruck Cooper was straight into the game with a good turnover. This was followed by some good approach work by Driffield. A resultant penalty to Driffield saw Brigham convert the points with a good kick. Driffield 3 Malton 5
The game continued towards half time with the scrums continuing to be highly unstable. The referee came around to the Malton tight head side of the scrum on two occasions to see what was going on. Remarkably, as if by magic , the scrum seemed to stay up, and not hit the deck. At a breadown close to the Driffield line, Rob Mewburn was penalised and yellow-carded for a deliberate knock on. Malton naturally played to their strengths, opted for the scrum and scored a good push over, which they converted. Half Time. Driffield 3 Malton 12
At half time Driffield reshuffled with Pettinger on to hooker to replace Brumfield and Dervey on for Nellen. Early signs looked like these changes had halted the Malton shove at the scrum. The Mewburn yellow card continued into the 2nd half and to the credit of the Driffield defence, with their line speed and tackling, prevented any further score.
A couple of scrums close to the Driffield line had the Driffield seven man scrum digging in and allowing Gray and Brigham to clear their lines. With Mewburn back on, the Driffield back row, who had been relatively quiet thus far, started to gain parity at the breakdown. Some good driving play led to an attacking lineout on the Malton 22, but a mix up on the calls led to Malton winning the lineout and relieving Driffield’s pressure. When Malton reasserted some scrum pressure, Brankley and Grey managed to salvage useable ball.
Throughout the game Malton had won the higher percentage of ball. However their backs, whilst looking dangerous, had not been able to crack Driffield’s defence. Towards the end the game seemed to stagnate and finished with Driffield 6 Malton 12
The physical strength of the Malton front row was obvious, and a constant threat to Driffield, but the scrummaging technique of their commendable tight-head prop deserved much closer scrutiny from the referee. The players bind and angle of shove owed its origins to props of the last century. Today’s scrum laws completely negate this technique. At the end of the game, 3 Driffield veteran props quite rightly said, “It’s all about what the ref will let you get away with2”.
Generally, therefore, a disappointing day for Driffield. Following their recent high tempo displays and their all-field game, had led to high expectations but it eluded them on Saturday. Due to the constant scrum delays, play was fragmented and resulted in a rather dour game for both sets of spectators. On the day, Malton deserved their victory. Whilst disappointed, the Driffield squad will work on areas that need development and will be keen to get back to winning ways at Dinnington next Saturday.