Although in the earlier fixture between these two sides the Woldsmen came out comfortable 42-3 winners, and 12 places separated the clubs in the league, this fixture was never going to be easy as history tells us that trips to Lodge Lane have been notorious for throwing up ‘surprise’ results. With Dinnington at full strength and battling for their lives at the foot of the table the men from East Yorkshire knew that a tough day at the office awaited them and so it proved to be.
Skipper Mewburn made a welcome return to the back row, Watts started at 9 and Dearing and Lawrence returned to the back line at full-back and wing respectively.
Driffield started well, with a purpose and confidence that was reassuring to see. Playing into a strong wind they moved the ball well, Watts’ speedy delivery allowing both forwards and backs to probe the Dinnington defence. Nellen, as last week, quickly established himself as a key ball-carrier, always getting over the gain line with Douglas and Cooper following suit. Against the run of play, but a pattern that would repeat itself in the game, Dinnington made the most of a turn-over and lock Shepard made an incisive break deep into Driffield territory. The Woldsmen seemed to have steadied the ship but the referee adjudged them offside and Francis stepped up to put the home side 3-0 up.
Their lead would not last long as the Woldsmen were soon back on the offensive. The ball was slung left then right with Dench and Piercy looking threatening and when Dinsdale had executed one of his trademark gliding runs he linked with support and Nellen was high-tackled. Dearing popped over the penalty and all was square at 3-3.
Driffield then started to put more pressure on the South Yorkshire side, working through the phases, opening the game up and testing the home side’s defence. Once again Watts looked sharp at 9 and Furbank looked assured at 10. It was good to see a patience in the approach work of the visitors who put their hosts under great pressure but to the home side’s credit they were well-organised and resilient in defence and when the opportunity arose to break away they did so with guile and speed, both forwards and backs displaying good handling speed which resulted in a score in the corner, Francis missing with the conversion 8-3.
Dinnington were growing in confidence now and when the visitors encroached the offside line referee Boyle was quick to award a penalty which stretched their lead to 11-3.
Seemingly unmoved the Woldsmen were soon back on the attack. The ball found its way into Dinsdale’s hands on the left wing and although there was plenty of home cover the young Woldsmen turned them inside out and scored a wonderful try near to the left hand upright. Dearing slotted the conversion making it 11-10.
Back came Driffield, probing short then wide, the skipper leading by example well-supported by his fellow back-rower Cullen who once again put in a massive shift, making a great break only to be high-tackled. Dearing needed no invitation to pop over the penalty to put the Woldsmen in front for the first time at 11-13.
Once again Driffield were soon back in the home 22. The line-out was working well and the approach work was once again patient and well-constructed. Zavatti almost broke through as did Nellen and once again the home side were penalised for a high tackle. Dearing made no mistake and it seemed at that point that everything was going to plan, at 11-16.
Dinnington had advertised their ability to strike from depth with their first try and Driffield seemed to be caught flat-footed when they did it again right on the stroke of half-time, the visitors looking uncharacteristicly fragile in defence, suddenly finding themselves 18-16 down at the break having got themselves into a deserved lead.
The second half slowly grew worse for the Woldsmen as the home side, buoyed by their success started to take the ascendancy, helped in part by their ability to read the referee’s interpretations of the laws better, but also by the visitors becoming more frustrated by the situation. Bunting used all his experience to foster this frustration and once again when Dinnington had ball in hand they always looked dangerous. A kick to the corner was followed by a driving maul, from the back of which Doughty drove over to put Dinnington 25-16 in front with the conversion.
At this point Driffield had already lost Cullen to injury forcing Douglas into the back row. Sowersby came on for Watts and quickly made an impact with a scything break from which he found Douglas in support who in turn off-loaded well to Lawrence. The pressure was on the Woldsmen to make something happen and there was no lack of endeavour but, as before, the home side proved tough adversaries in defence.
Dinsdale came desperately close to scoring in the corner, just nicking the whitewash on his way in and when Driffield elected to kick for the corner instead of taking three points, then got turned over you could say the writing was on the wall. The final whistle came and the game had slipped away. Dinnington deserved their win and on this showing may well ‘surprise’ quite a few more opponents.
The Driffield lads will be greatly disappointed by the result which just emphasises the strength of the division, but they should take some real positives out of a difficult day at the office. The scrummage and line-out were solid and the talent behind was evident to see. Results elsewhere meant they still head the table and I would expect to see a major backlash next week at Kelleythorpe when they entertain Northern.