Important win for Woldsmen
After a two week break, Driffield were back in league action on Saturday when they welcomed Bradford & Bingley to Kelleythorpe. The visitors gained promotion last season and they have adapted to life in a higher league well, sitting in fifth position at the start of the day. The Woldsmen welcomed McClarron onto the wing for a rare start, with Stephenson at full back and Robinson in the centre. The forwards were strong with Borman and Dodds in the second row and the Mewburn brothers alongside Burns in the back row.
Any concerns about rust were swept aside in the first 3 minutes. Driffield took a scrum against the head, Gray sniped down the blindside and fed Dinsdale who crossed in the corner. Brigham pushed the conversion wide. Bradford came back strongly, using their pack to gain ground and put Driffield under pressure. Driffield were conceding too many penalties and Bradford took advantage of an indiscretion in the home sides twenty two to notch up their first points of the day.
The Woldsmen looked dangerous when they moved the ball across the backs. Stephenson was chiming into the line with good effect, and he took a clearance on the half way line and scythed through the opposition defence, but the last pass was forward and the chance was gone. Driffield nearly added to their total again when Burns stole a lineout and the ball was moved wide, but the ball was knocked on and the chance was lost.
Bradford made the home side pay when they added their second penalty after forcing Driffield up in the scrum. Driffield were probably fortunate not to have lost a man to the sin bin at this point as they were on the wrong side of the referee and were giving away too many penalties. Behind by a point, Driffield finished the half strongly. First, good harrying by McClarron earned the Woldsmen a penalty. Brigham found a good touch and the forwards set a maul. The ball was moved back to the blind, but the pass eluded the home side and went into touch. From the clearance, Driffield attacked again. Brigham offloaded out of the tackle and found Dench. He moved it to Robinson who bounced it wide to McClarron. He cut inside and found Stephenson. Again, the last pass let Driffield down as his offload to Gray was adjudged forward.
The second half started evenly, but needless penalties gifted the visitors field position. They were nearly made to pay when the Bradford fly half slipped a tackle and made ground. He chose to kick ahead and the ball was knocked on over the line. The next ten minutes saw momentum swing. From a short lineout, Rob Mewburn hit a hard line and made yards. He offloaded to his brother who was tackled high. This lead to Bradford losing a man to the sin bin and Driffield adding three points to their total. 8-6. They repeated this five minutes later. Driffield took another scrum against the head and worked the blind side. Brigham was taken high and won a penalty which he took quickly. He was tackled too soon and Bradford had another man despatched to the bin and Brigham added another 3 points to make the score 11-6.
Bradford went straight down the Driffield end and earned a penalty which they converted to narrow the scoreline. With just two points between the sides, the next score was crucial. It went to Driffield. They elected to take a scrum deep in Bradford territory, which they won but not cleanly. Dench tidied up and the forwards showed good control in keeping the ball and building pressure. After drawing in the defence, the ball was moved wide and Stephenson crossed in the corner, capping an excellent display.
Now ahead by seven, Driffield needed to close the game out. However, they invited pressure on themselves with poor decision making. A loose pass across the face of the posts lead to a Driffield scrum, which was turned over. Driffield responded well and a hit from George Mewburn forced the opposition backwards. Rob Mewburn disrupted the ruck, but was penalised. Bradford pushed the resulting shot for goal wide. Driffield had a chance to add to their score and deny Bradford a losing bonus point, but Brigham pushed his penalty attempt wide to leave the final score 16-7.
This was a much needed and well deserved win for Driffield. Yet again, their defence was excellent, chopping down their bigger opposition before they could build a head of steam. It is to their credit that they kept their dangerous opponents try less. With a little more composure, and accuracy on the final pass the scoreline could have been greater. Eight points now separate seven teams. Driffield get a chance to add to their points tally next weekend when they face Guisborough in a rearranged game.