Percy Park belied their league position and pushed promotion chasing Driffield all the way on Saturday at Kelleythorpe. Much improved conditions greeted the sides and the Woldsmen were able to select from a near full-strength squad. Park looked a robust team and would be keen to gain revenge for a comprehensive reverse earlier in the season.
It was Park who scored first, with an excellent try, moving the ball wide and demonstrating their offloading skills, not for the first time on the day, and touching down for a converted try. Driffield 0 – 7 Percy Park
Driffield had barely touched the ball, but had an opportunity to hit back almost immediately. Lawrence claimed a high kick under pressure, and Furbank chipped into space. An ambitious long pass across the posts was knocked on giving Driffield a scrum five yards out. Park did well to disrupt this and cleared their lines. The Woldsmen did get on the scoreboard soon after. Parker, on debut, found his man in the line-out and Driffield set a maul. George Mewburn nipped down the blindside unopposed and scored for Dinsdale to convert. Driffield 7 – 7 Percy Park
This only serve to energise Park and they continued to pressurise Driffield when they had the ball, causing them to make errors and concede territory. They scored their second try of the afternoon, wriggling out of a tackle close to the line for an unconverted try. Driffield 7 – 12 Percy Park
Driffield needed to find their rhythm and settle into the game. They showed what they were capable of with a very well-worked try finished by the outstanding Piercy. Parker set the tone, carrying strongly and getting Driffield on the front foot. The ball was passed to captain Mewburn and deft hands found Furbank who fizzed the ball on to Dench at pace. He found Stephenson who made a half break and passed inside to the supporting Piercy. Dinsdale converted again to take the lead for the first time. Driffield 14 – 12 Percy Park
Both sides seemed to be struggling with interpretations at the breakdown, and Park won a penalty which they opted to kick at goal from distance. This was pushed just wide, and Driffield made them pay with a cleverly-worked try. From a line-out, which was lucky to be adjudged straight, Driffield spread the ball across the field. A Park knock-on gave Driffield a scrum. Mewburn picked up from the base and won a penalty. With advantage on their side, Furbank slid a kick through for Stephenson to pick up on the bounce and score under the posts. Stephenson had spotted that there was no full back and Furbank executed the play perfectly. Half time : Driffield 21 – 12 Percy Park.
Driffield made a poor start to the second half when the restart didn’t go ten, gifting Park field position. From the scrum, they chipped through, but once again Piercy returned with interest. He made forty yards before his offload went forward in the tackle conceding possession. Park kept the ball and probed the Driffield defence, until a counter-ruck on the half way line turned over the ball, which found Furbank on the back foot. He slipped a tackle and sped away from the cover. His pass found Piercy on the bounce, and he put Dinsdale in the corner for an unconverted try to claim the bonus point for the Woldsmen. Driffield 26 – 12 Percy Park
Driffield then came under a period of intense pressure, losing first Stephenson to the bin for a deliberate knock-down and, shortly after, losing Dinsdale to a yellow card. Driffield’s defence was outstanding during the next ten minutes. Cullen and Lawrence were both prominent, but captain Mewburn lead the way, scything down opponents and shutting down any opposition attacks. Furbank turned Park around on multiple occasions, finding excellent field position with lengthy kicks. From one of these, Dinsdale’s pressure forced a five yard scrum from which Park lost a man to the sin bin. Sensing the chance to finish the game off, Driffield went on the attack. Robinson, on at scrum-half, had injected pace into the game and his sniping around the ruck caused Park problems. Quick ball found Douglas and his deft hands found Cooper rampaging onto the ball to claim the try. Driffield 31 – 12 Percy Park
Park weren’t finished and claimed another try through their forwards, before a length of the field intercept raised the tension amongst the home support. Crucially the conversion was pushed wide, leaving Driffield more than a converted try ahead and the game finished Driffield 31 – 22 Percy Park.
This game highlighted everything that is good about the league. Despite the gulf in league positions, Park pushed Driffield all the way, and will surely find themselves safe if they replicate their performance. It was a fitting way to say goodbye to Australian second-row Douglas, in his second stint with the club. He was outstanding on the day, carrying hard and defending with great strength. The turnout for his farewell showed the regard in which he is held by the club and we wish him all the best on his return to the Southern Hemisphere.
Driffield continue their tough run to the end of the season with a trip to high-flying Morpeth, before a potential runner-up decider against Penrith on the 14th April.