West Leeds were the opposition on Saturday for the encounter at Kelleythorpe. The visitors were promoted to North East 1 with their efforts from last season, and to date had one won and lost one against strong opposition. Intelligence reports were that they are a highly motivated and competitive outfit who want to progress.
Driffield had to make enforced changes from last week’s win at Bridlington with injury and unavailability. Charlie Beachell came in for the injured captain Rob Mewburn. Piercy and Robinson paired up in the centre for the unavailable Stephenson and Dench. Dearing returned at fly half for the injured Murray. Blenkinsop started at loose head and Dervey, Borman and Sowersby filled the bench.
The visitors had looked sharp in the warm up, and continued this into the game. They showed some slick off loading and inter passing to keep moving the point of attack. This tested Driffields defence from the outset, and their powerful no 8 had some early carries. Some good Driffield defence saw Dearing bring off a crunching tackle, illustrating his all round game. With the early pressure, West Leeds won a penalty and their fly half was narrowly wide with the kick on the angle from 35 metres. A short while later their pressure told when Driffield were beaten on the overlap by the pace of the West right wing who got over in the corner for an unconverted try.
DRIFFIELD 0 – WEST LEEDS 5
West had won the majority of the ball so far, but Driffield responded to move into their stride. From a loose ball on the halfway line, George Mewburn burst clear, with a try on, only for the referee to halt the game, as a West lock forward went down injured in a tackle.
Still not on the scoreboard, Driffield’s habit of trying to force the play, leading to rushed off-loads, crept into their game, whereas the opposition seemed just that bit more confident to hold on and not rush.
Their forwards forced a position down the right; their winger chipped ahead. It appeared to be well covered by the Driffield defender but he lost his footing on the greasy surface. West nipped in for the try. The conversion was wide.
DRIFFIELD 0 – WEST LEEDS 10
Further pressure won the visitors another penalty, but from some 45 metres out, they were unsuccessful. Their winger then made a good break, but Dinsdale always had him in his sights and halted him down in the 22. Driffield then burst into the game. From a quick ruck ball, the ball went down the left and Robinson and Piercy put Dearing away. He showed commendable pace and outstripped the defence for a well worked try. Dearing could not convert.
DRIFFIELD 5 – WEST LEEDS 10
West Leeds went straight back on the attack, Dodd’s had to be replaced after 30 mins with suspected concussion. On strode the old campaigner Borman.
HALF TIME : DRIFFIELD 5 – WEST LEEDS 10
Dervey came on for Blenkinsop during the break. As the second half got underway West Leeds’ fly-half showed his kicking from the hand when from a scrum in their 22 he cleared the ball a full 60 metres for a good touch. This was followed by further pressure on Driffield but they were at their usual high standard and on one hanging ball, Cooper leapt majestically to take the ball for his pack.
On 51 minutes their scrum half orchestrated a dangerous attack, he shimmied and darted and was through the gap but Dinsdale simply ate up the ground and hauled him down into touch for a fine tackle close to the 22.
Pettinger had a good burst across the halfway, which was carried on by the pack. On 57 minutes the Driffield pack worked a good position, the referee signalled for a Driffield penalty. They opted for the scrum but despite some good work could not get over and the ball was eventually given away and the valuable position lost. It was a shame, but it can easily be rectified by not rushing the offload under pressure and having the confidence to maul and ruck more. They know they have the ability to match the best.
A short while later from a position deep in the West 22, Beachell showed quick thinking and the confidence to take a quick tap penalty to himself. He made ground through a tackle and fed on to the abrasive Piercy who forced his way over for the try. The conversion from wide out missed.
DRIFFIELD 10 – WEST LEEDS 10
Driffield then showed an uncharacteristic degree of naivety when they failed to take the restart and gave away a penalty as a result. The West kicker got the points from some 45 metres.
DRIFFIELD 10 – WEST LEEDS 13
A silly error but the team spirit was still evident. A period of real pressure on the West line had all the forwards to the fore. A great drive led to Dervey being forced over for a team try. The conversion was agonisingly close.
DRIFFIELD 15 – WEST LEEDS 13
On 60 minutes, Beachell went off for some treatment to be replaced by Sowersby. The crowd could see that he was ready for his chance as he immediately got into the game with a couple of good bursts and was a real livewire about the field . There had been numerous injury stoppages so plenty of additional time was expected.
On 78 minutes, Dinsdale was put into space. Being squeezed closer to touch he chipped through. He appeared to be taken out late, but as the kick bobbled across the dead ball area, a following Driffield player just missed out on a touchdown. The decision was a West 22 drop out and a chance had narrowly gone astray.
Late in the game after a deal of injury time, Driffield made another avoidable mistake with an adjudged high tackle inside the 10 meter line. The West fly half strode up and calmly converted from 50 metres. The final whistle followed immediately.
FINAL SCORE : DRIFFIELD 15 – WEST LEEDS 16
Driffield players had come so close to victory but in their heart of hearts, they know the better team had won on the day. There was still a lot of positivity identified by the management team. Some encouraging performances from Beachell, Lawrence and Sowersby and the fact that Driffield have come so close to a victory with not perhaps their best display should encourage the group to move forward again.
Next week is the visit of Cleckheaton. They are always tough and abrasive upfront so there is plenty for the squad to concentrate on during training.