Driffield got their league campaign underway with a tricky-looking home fixture against newly-promoted York. A spate of early season injuries, coupled with unavailabilities, meant a much-changed side since the last-gasp defeat to Wilmslow in the playoff game in May. Rob Mewburn was again leading the side and was joined in the back row by brother George, and Turner. The second row was a mix of youth and experience with Warkup making a league debut alongside Borman. Watts partnered Furbank in the halves with the returning Brankley in the centre with Stephenson.
Driffield, playing into the wind, received the kick off and made a fast start. Straight from the kick off George Mewburn burst through a tackle and carried across the half way line, before finding Lawrence on the wing with a good long pass. Driffield recycled the ball and moved the York defence around, with the pressure earning a couple of penalties, the second one converted by Watts to give Driffield an early lead : Driffield 3 – 0 York.
York hit back, with a simple backs’ move getting around the side of the Driffield defence and giving a 2 on 1 with the full back, but the opportunity was well defended by Piercy. Driffield had a chance to clear their lines, but kicked straight to touch. From the resulting lineout, York won a penalty which was well converted to level the scores. Driffield 3 – 3 York
York now entered a period of pressure, with a solid lineout generating opportunities for their backs to move the ball around and stretch the Driffield defence. From a lineout close to the Driffield line, they organised a rolling maul and touched down for their first try of the season, again converted with a good kick. Driffield 3 – 10 York
Again momentum shifted, with the Woldsmen now entering a period of pressure. Brankley made a half break and got the home side moving forwards. Furbank found Piercy who again nearly punched through the defence, before the ball was moved wide to Murray who was bundled into touch just short. Driffield pinched the lineout and Mewburn took the ball into the heart of the York defence. Zavatti took the ball on, showing balanced running, but the York defence held firm. A scrum under the posts saw Driffield under pressure, but win the penalty which Watts took quickly before finding Lawrence to cross in the corner. A tough conversion was missed : Driffield 8 – 10 York.
Playing into the wind, a 2 point deficit would have been a good result, but York just edged the first half with a classy try. A move that looked to be going nowhere was rescued when a York back showed his pace to streak through a gap before beating the last defender to score under the posts, again converted. Driffield 8 – 17 York
Driffield needed another fast start to the half, but it was York who scored first, adding a penalty to extend their lead to 12 points. Driffield 8 – 20 York
With the wind behind them. Driffield sought to play field position and try and build pressure. A penalty gave them chance to add to their tally, but decided to kick to the corner. Composed control of the ball was met with resolute defence, and it took a piece of skill to open the York defence. Moving the ball slightly wider, Watts found George Mewburn in space and a feint to the outside of his man followed by an offload from the back of the hand found Piercy hitting a short line and the resulting 7 points narrowed the gap to five. Driffield 15 – 20 York
The next score was crucial, and it was York who got it, extending the lead beyond a converted try. A strong break from the visiting number 8 gave York a scrum on the Driffield ten metre line from which they won a penalty, well converted again from distance. Driffield 15 – 23 York
York nearly extended their lead with a scything break through the middle of the Driffield defence, only for the try scoring pass to be plucked out of the air by Stephenson who then made an excellent clearance to touch.
A break out instigated by Brankley and carried on by Stephenson gave Driffield a penalty chance, but the kick was pushed wide from Murray, who had entered the fray at fly half. York were controlling the ball and running down the clock. Driffield were finding it hard to get their hands on the ball, but their defence was at least preventing York from claiming a try bonus point, notably when captain Mewburn caught the opposition number eight from behind and prevented the offload when a try looked certain.
With time virtually up, Driffield sought to salvage a bonus point. Running from their own line, a neat chip through from Murray found Lawrence running on at pace. He made 50 yards and crossed the half way line. The ball was recycled by Mewburn, and found its way to Brankley. A clever offload found Stephenson, and the resulting converted try left the Woldsmen one point short. Driffield 22 – 23 York
This was undoubtedly a disappointing result for the home side, but York were worthy winners. They won the kicking duel and looked more dangerous with ball in hand. Driffield will seek to bounce back next week with a short trip to Pocklington for another local derby.