Perfect conditions greeted the start of the season with old foes Bradford & Bingley providing the opposition at Kelleythorpe. The sides had experienced contrasting fortunes in pre -season, with Driffield winning all 3 and Bradford losing their fixture with Kirkby Lonsdale. Driffield fielded a strong side, with Piercy making a welcome return from injury and new arrival Dearing featuring at fly-half, with Dench and Stephenson alongside in the centres. In the pack, George Mewburn moved across the back row to start at number 8, with captain Rob at open side and Turner completing the trio.
The first half started in a frenetic fashion, with both sides looking to move the ball. As was to be expected, things didn’t always click and there was plenty of mistakes. From one of these errors, Bradford scooped up a loose ball in midfield and showed good pace to finish from 40 yards, for a converted try. Driffield didn’t let this set back phase them and got straight back on the attack. Strong carrying through the forwards took the game to the larger opposition pack, but turnovers stopped momentum building. Dearing made a sharp break showing his pace. He regathered his chip through, but the ball was knocked on just short of the Bradford line.
Driffield’s first try showed what the team is capable of, with backs and forwards combining to score an excellent try. From a solid scrum, Turner ran hard into midfield. Cooper carried the ball on before it was recycled to George Mewburn who offloaded for Furbank who showed his pace to cross in the corner. Dearing missed this conversion, but did add 3 points soon afterwards to edge the Woldsmen into the lead for the first time. He repeated the feat just before half time to take the score to 11-7.
The second half started with Bradford exerting pressure on the home side. A series of penalties gave the away side field position which they used to good effect. Driffield conceded a lot of penalties throughout the day, and they lost a man to the sin bin early in the half. Bradford continued to press hard, but Driffield’s defence was once again excellent, repelling the larger opposition pack. Bradford did have the opportunity for points, but pushed a kickable penalty wide.
As the last 20 minutes approached, it felt like Driffield’s fitness would show through if they could keep the pace of the game high and stretch the opposition through the phases. With almost their first foray into the visitors 22 they added to their points total and moved them beyond a converted try. Dench made a break in midfield which was carried on by the Driffield pack. Nellen came onto the ball at pace, but was stopped by an illegal tackle, which saw Bradford lose a man to the bin. This led to a spell of pressure with a scrum against the head almost leading to a try, before a quick tap penalty saw George Mewburn barrel over.
Another one followed soon afterwards. Ryan Murray made yards returning the ball from full-back, before Gray sniped around the fringes and offloaded to Dervey. He galloped 30 yards and swatted the full-back aside. The ball was recycled and Gray found George Mewburn hitting a great line and he touched down under the posts. Dearing converted to take the score to 23-7.
A further try would bring a bonus point, and Driffield managed that with a similar try to the one Bradford scored. Gray picked up a loose ball in midfield and he found Stephenson who offloaded to Dodds to touch down. Final score 28-7.
A bonus point win to start the season against a side of Bradford’s calibre is an excellent start, but the Woldsmen will feel they have more to offer. A local derby against newly-promoted Bridlington awaits next week.