This weekend the Woldsmen made the long trip north to Newcastle, to face Northern. Former North One East opposition, they had been demoted the season before last but showed determination in bouncing straight back this term. With only one win from six they are finding promotion tough. The away leg at McCracken Park is always a challenging affair and the Driffield coaches knew only a good performance would see them through.
With a blank weekend last Saturday, the break had allowed the return of the captain, Rob Mewburn after his ankle injury. With Gray out injured, Robinson continued at scrum-half and Dench returned after unavailability. The bench consisted of Borman, Ryan Murray and Blenkinsop.
Early signs showed that Northern were far from a team deserving of a bottom of the table slot. Their pack was competitive and their fly-half Collins started to move the ball and equally probe with some shrewd kicking. Driffield’s defence looked well organised. The blustery conditions from right to left were keeping Driffield pinned in their own half. Northern applied pressure from a catch and drive near Driffield’s line, it looked ominous as they rumbled forward, but Robinson pulled off a great turnover to relieve the situation.
After eleven minutes, from a Northern scrum put-in, their no 8 picked and drove. He was stopped short but their scrum-half managed to get over for the try which was converted. Driffield 0 – Northern 7
Driffield bounced straight back and Ben Dinsdale broke through across halfway. As he was tackled his pass went loose and the movement was halted. Although winning plenty of ball, Driffield were once again pushing the game too hard, with resultant errors creeping in.
The back row was up for the challenge. Rob Mewburn pulled off a stunning turnover after 21 minutes. George followed with a numbing tackle which lead to a turnover and penalty to Driffield. Another good break through the backs, and Dench just failed to off-load. Plenty of promise, but just falling short with the execution so far. On the half hour, from a breakdown close to Northern line, George Mewburn went left and took 3 defenders over with him as he levelled the try count. The conversion followed from Dearing. Driffield 7 – Northern 7
A short while later, with Driffield under pressure Furbank with his siege-gun boot made a full 60 metre to relieve the situation. James Dinsdale was proving a useful option in the lineout and was taking secure ball at no 2. On 36 minutes Dervey went to a yellow card for failing to move away as he tackled. He wasn’t convinced. On came Blenkinsop to cover at scrum-time.
With a man light, Driffield came under severe pressure close to their line. Only good scrummaging and good defence kept Northern at bay. On the stroke of half-time Rob Mewburn pulled off another trademark turnover, as the referee blew for the break.
Half-Time : Driffield 7 – Northern 7
As the second half started, Driffield were being made to fight for every scrap of possession. On half-way Robinson tried a quick tap and go and made good ground. A second penalty led to a kick to the corner but Driffield could not finish the pressure off from the resultant lineout
Ben Dinsdale had a good burst down the right, this was followed by good drives for the line by props Blenkinsop and Zavatti but a tight defence knocked them back. On 52 minutes Borman came on for Cooper. Driffield’s ascendency continued and close to the Northern line Robinson looked like he was going over but a great tackle and turnover saved Northern.
Dench punted for the corner but from the resultant lineout Northern cleared well. Ben Dinsdale surged through midfield; it was only a slight hesitation with his off-load on the 22 that stopped a certain try. From the breakdown though, Driffield were not to be denied. The ball was moved right and Lawrence who had a faultless game scored. Dearing made a great conversion from wide out. Driffield 14 – Northern 7
Into the last 20 minutes and Murray came on for Dearing. Northern would not give in; they came back and only good tackling kept them out. Brumfield was harrying everywhere and one blockbuster of a tackle from Borman kept them afloat. As time ticked away travelling supporters feared Northern might level the scores but good defence in the centres from Dench and Piercy, aided by a couple of massive clearances from Furbank edged the game for Driffield
Final Score : Driffield 14 – Northern 7
This was always going to be close-fought. It was a game which showed great character from both sides. Lawrence showed real promise and poses a consistent threat in space. Whilst Driffield didn’t hit top gear they demonstrated that they are capable of slugging out a victory. A good team effort. West Hartlepool visit next week. Yet again another team who demand respect. Coaches Cooper, Mitchell-Williams and McClarron will prepare well.