Hopes were high of a win among the great number of travelling supporters who gathered at Scatchard Lane after last week’s fantastic second half display against Consett at Kelleythorpe. Although through injury and unavailability the first team squad was light of 23 players, Kyle Dench and Stu Cooper had managed to piece together a team that, though much-changed, had balance and potential, and that showed in the first forty minutes. With five changes in the backs it was always going to be difficult and it was Morley that were first to test the Driffield defence.
Both sides started brightly, both keen to open the game up and stay away from the set piece. The weather in Leeds was perfect for running rugby but a strong wind blew across the pitch which was to have some influence on the game. Morley were pressing hard but lost possession and Robinson, first game back after injury, kicked long which was fielded by the young Morley fullback who ran hard and elusively deep into Driffield territory. The ball was recycled and only desperate and determined defence prevented a score, Brankley and Mewburn once again in the thick of the tackling. However, the ref spotted an offside and the home side slotted the penalty to give them the lead on four minutes. Morley 3 – 0 Driffield
Driffield were struggling to find their feet in the game although new boy Henry Watson, on loan from Otley, at hooker was prominent and making a good impression. Good line out ball was won and a searching kick from Watts pushed the home side back into their twenty-two, forcing them to clear for touch. Again the line out was good and the attack looked promising but the ball was turned over and Morley broke up the left hand side showing good hands to take play close to the visitors’ line. Once again Driffield were punished by the ref for holding on in the tackle and soon found themselves further behind. Morley 6 – 0 Driffield.
Again both sides looked keen to run the ball wide and now it was the turn of the Woldsmen to put the pressure on. With good patience the ball was driven at the Morley line, Beachell and Brankley testing the home defence with some hard drives and Robinson sniping around the back. The Driffield scrum-half then made a great little break, well-supported by Watts and when the ball was recycled a little chip through by the scrum half forced the home side to touch down for an attacking five metre scrum. From this the ever-young McClarron very nearly got over in the corner. Driffield continued to press, Brankley once again coming close forcing another five metre scrum from which Morley were penalised. Quick-thinking skipper Mewburn took a tap and flew over the line to claim the try which was improved by Watts to give the visitors the lead that they just about deserved. Morley 6 – 7 Driffield
Soon back on the attack, Watts got his backs moving and a fluent passage of play saw McClarron clear through, only to be brought back for a forward pass which might on another day have been judged very well-timed. However, the signs were good going into half time, in front and with a good foothold in the game.
The second half was a different story. The failure to clear when deep in defence was once again to haunt the Woldsmen, as a wayward pass went straight into touch and from the line out a great drive from the home side saw them held up over the line. From the ensuing scrum, which Driffield held up manfully, the ball was turned over but Robinson’s clearance kick failed to find touch and after a couple of further drives at the line Morley were over to claim the lead. Morley 13 – 7 Driffield
Undeterred, the Woldsmen were soon back on the attack. Dinsdale and Lawrence made ground and Cooper bulldozed a few extra yards every time he got it. Pushing hard at the Morley line one felt another score would soon come but it was the home side who intercepted and showed good skills to run the ball back up the field and nearly score. Two minutes later the Morley ten kicked through and a bit of hesitation in defence was capitalised on and Driffield found themselves further behind in the blink of an eye. Morley 18 – 7 Driffield
It was to get worse for the visitors who, although showing much endeavour, were being imprecise with their passing and starting to struggle up front. Morley were awarded another penalty which dropped short but the Driffield defence was carried over the line for a five metre scrum from which only desperate defence held the line. The ball was swung wide and Morley awarded another penalty for a high tackle which they kicked to the corner. From the line-out the Morley ten waltzed through to score and convert. Morley 25 – 7 Driffield
To make matters worse Robinson was binned, much to his bemusement, and directly from the kick-off the disjointed and re-jigged back line was immediately breached again as the home backs grew in confidence to score under the posts. Morley 33 – 7 Driffield
Five minutes later much the same was to happen to compound the Woldsmen’s misery and push the score up to Morley 39 – 7 Driffield. It could have been worse had the wingers from Morley held onto a couple of potential scoring passes but, although the home side definitely deserved their victory and looked a very competent side, that would have been unfair on the visitors who for periods of the game had looked the better side.
Individually there were some good performances : Beachell, Watson, Brankley and skipper Mewburn to name a few. And you have to take into account the number of changes in the side. But, as with the Bridlington game, it was Driffield’s inaccuracy and indecision under pressure which gifted the opposition the opportunity to get into the game and though the score in the end was emphatic the boys on the field will know that it could have been very different and I’m sure they will be desperate to put that right in coming weeks.
Next week is the Yorkshire Cup against Ionians second team at home, so the boys will get chance to rest a few injuries and regroup before the next league game. A good first half against Bridlington and Morley, a great second half against Consett … one day soon they will stick 80 minutes together on the same day and really make a mess of someone.