Saturday, 22 April
The last game of the season saw the visit of Morpeth from the North East. The away game at Morpeth was Driffield’s opening game of the season, and had ended in defeat for them. Today’s game was very important, firstly to see how far the squad had developed this season and secondly to clear any memories of last week’s sobering defeat at Bridlington.
The team showed a few changes with Blacker moving to full back for the unavailable Stephenson. McClarron came onto the wing. Soanes, making his debut came into the centre for the unavailable Robinson. Gray returned to scrum half for the injured Bell, and Burns made a welcome return after his Yorkshire Under 20 duties. Ramsden and Sowersby were added to the bench.
From the kick-off Driffield slipped into gear and started attacking from all positions on the field. After only five minutes a good break by George Mewburn was driven on well by Turner with Gray nipping over for the try in the right-hand corner. Furbank, with the kicking duties, was unable to convert. A short while later with good movement from Burns and Mewburn, they put young McClarron over wide out. With the missed conversion, the score after only eleven minutes was Driffield 10 Morpeth 0
At an early scrum the Driffield eight established themselves with a massive drive. The Morpeth front row buckled with the referee awarding the penalty to Driffield. After seventeen minutes, Burns caught at four. With the drive coming on, it was halted close to the visitor’s line. Cooper took the short ball at pace and barged his way over with tremendous power. Furbank added the extras to make it Driffield 17 Morpeth 0
Sensing a vulnerable opposition Driffield continued their all-court game. With Dench and Soanes combining well in the centre, they put George Mewburn over for a try in the corner. Then Blacker, looking dangerous at full-back, made massive in-roads into the Morpeth defence; unfortunately it came to nothing as Morpeth staged a hurried defence.
Morpeth were defending bravely but Driffield were on a roll. Following a great break by Gray, it was driven on by Cooper. From the breakdown close to the line Pettinger went close, laid the ball back and Furbank went over for a good try which he converted: Driffield 29 Morpeth 0
Morpeth came back into the game for a while but Driffield’s cover defence was back to its usual ‘lock down’. From a breakdown in the Driffield half Brankley made a powerful break, shrugging off Morpeth defenders and took the ball a full fifty metres. He off-loaded to Furbank who in turn off-loaded a nice inside ball to Dinsdale. From the breakdown the Driffield forwards drove for the line and Furbank darted over for a well-worked try.
On 35 minutes, Blenkinsop came on for Dervey in the front row. There followed a bull-like drive by Pettinger, followed up by another by Blenkinsop. McClarron made a clean break into the Morpeth half; on his shoulder was Cooper and with the line a clear fifty metres away Cooper was prepared to go, but the referee adjudged the ball forward.
Both Soanes and Blacker were having good games, marshalled by wily campaigners Dench and McClarron. Furbank’s confidence in his unaccustomed fly-half role was visibly growing in this game.
Just before half-time Pettinger, throwing his customary dummy made a clear break, the last tackler spotted his intended side step and brought him down. At the breakdown close to the Morpeth line, Pettinger popped up again to feed the ball to Burns, who made no mistake with the try : Half Time – Driffield 41 Morpeth 0
At the break, Ramsden came on for Turner and Tom Sowersby for McClarron. Straight away from the kick-off Driffield resumed their attritional style, but it was not all Driffield’s way; with Dench and Gray showing some great cover tackling. After five minutes of the second half Brumfield broke clear on his ten-yard line, handed on to Brankley, to Pettinger, who sent Soanes on a dangerous run.
Morpeth showed their fighting spirit with some good runs by their pacey full-back, then their fly-half kicked through to the corner and they scored wide out. Then some great hands by Driffield close to the Morpeth line got Blacker over for a well-deserved try.
In defence, Furbank showed his kicking out of hand ability with a monster eighty metre clearance, making a good touch. A break by Furbank put Sowersby in for his try. During the second half the game broke up and Ramsden’s foraging game came to the fore, with him working well with Burns, Mewburn and Brankley in a highly-mobile back five.
Morpeth scored their second try with a good burst of pace by their winger which was well-converted from wide out. Driffield, at their most dangerous in broken play, used the ball well and Blacker with the line at his mercy gave the ball unselfishly to McClarron to go over for the final try of the season. Final score Driffield 56 Morpeth 12
A very pleasing finish to the season. The shackles were off and the two sides combined for an entertaining game. Man of the match and captain Paul Dervey deserves much credit for his team’s performance this season. The coaching trio of Cooper, Williams and McClarron are already planning a tough pre-season for the club. It all augers well for 2017/18.