This week saw a much-changed Driffield squad take on Bradford & Bingley who have been recruiting of late and have a distinctly international flavour to their side now. Seven changes from last week due to unavailability and injury, sadly including Ben Lawrence with a broken leg, caused more problems for the coaching team as they battle to achieve some amount of continuity. Luckily the Woldsmen have a good pool of local talent to draw on and Josh Parkinson debut, Simon Rowbottom, Tom Sowersby and Simon Walgate all got promoted from the seconds with Stephenson, Watts and Dinsdale all returning after being unavailable last week.
It was a blustery bitterly cold day at Kelleythorpe but as usual a good crowd turned out to witness a very close game with spells of great rugby from both sides. It was however the visitors who started with a real bang, putting the home pack under great pressure and gaining a penalty. A couple of quick drives notably by Bees’ skipper Booth served warning to the Woldsmen who unfortunately in these early stages sustained their first setback of the day when Brankley, who had been in awesome form in recent weeks, dislocated his shoulder to be replaced by Walgate. From the restart Bees drove towards the posts then worked the ball wide for Magee to squeeze over in the corner mighty close to the touch line for the first score, but the difficult conversion went wide. Driffield 0 – 5 B&B.
From the kick-off Bees were soon back on the attack, Johnson at 10 proving a real handful. It was all hands to the pumps for the home side as they stoically defended their line against a very lively attacking back line : Turner, Dinsdale and Mewburn all putting big hits in but the visitors were not to be denied as Johnson engineered a switch which enabled Bees to score under the sticks leaving a straight forward conversion. Driffield 0 – 12 B&B.
12 down after ten minutes and the home crowd were fearing the worst : Bees had blown Pocklington away in a 55 point blitz last week and a similar result looked likely here. Brankley bravely re entered the fray but it soon became apparent that he was not going to be able to contribute further and had to retire to the dugout once more.
Spectators should have had more faith in their side as the Woldsmen started to work their way into the game, Watts endeavouring to get his backs moving at any opportunity and it was after great inter-passing that Mewburn made a good break, swatting would-be tacklers away and driving deep into enemy territory. The ball was recycled and acting skipper, the old warhorse Dervey, was on hand to carry further up field, Bees transgressed and Watts calmly slotted the penalty to open the Woldsmen’s account. Driffield 3 – 12 B&B.
Though not always fluent, the home side were working really hard to contain the visitors. Gray, as ever, outstanding at 9 getting through a phenomenal amount of work to keep the ball in hand. Dervey and Cooper drove the ball hard at the Bees’ line and Gray picked out a lovely pass on the blind side to put Ben Dinsdale in at the corner for a well-taken try. Watts’ conversion drifted wide in the squally wind but the ship had been steadied. Driffield 8 -12 B&B.
Back came Bradford running some great lines and bringing play right up to the Driffield line who defended like lions. Bees gained a five metre scrum but the home pack, which had been under massive pressure earlier in the game, held fast. Bees moved the ball with Taylor darting through a gap feeding Johnson who in turn found Te Amo coming on a good angle to score a fine try, unconverted. Driffield 8 – 17 B&B.
Seemingly undaunted the Woldsmen responded well, Mewburn and Dinsdale carrying well and Sowersby getting right in the faces of the opposition : the young hooker obviously relishing the challenge. As half time approached hope was rising of another score but a penalty against the Woldsmen seemed to have put an end to that thought, until Bees elected to run it instead of booting it off the field for what would have been the half-time whistle. The ball-carrier was stripped of the ball and the Driffield were on the attack again, Gray’s sniping runs linked with some fast recycling and a lovely combination of backs and forwards saw James Dinsdale like an arrow dive over under the posts for a lovely try. Watts popped over the kick and half time came with Driffield only trailing by 2 points. Driffield 15 – 17 B&B.
Unfortunately the second half started badly for the Woldsmen as has often happened this year. The lively Bees’ backline needed no invitation to exploit a slightly disjointed home defensive line and Malthouse seared through the gap to re establish the away advantage. Driffield 15 – 22 B&B.
Driffield though were showing their mettle as they endeavoured to regain the momentum. Young prop Rowbottom had replaced Zavatti and was having a real tussle with his wily adversary, New Zealander Wederell. Watts tried to get the backs moving at every opportunity and, despite the wind making it really difficult to get the ball wide, the three quarters looked dangerous. Stephenson in particular making a lovely gliding break through the visitors’ line. At this stage of the game one felt that the next score could be vital. Bees had regained possession and driven deep into Driffield territory and when Driffield were penalised for offside the visitors elected to kick the three points to open up a ten point gap with ten minutes to go. Driffield 15 – 25 B&B.
Once again the Woldsmen came back undaunted, Dench coming in and then out to effect a great line-break powered the play up field. Gray found Mewburn on one of his bullocking runs, the ball was recycled quickly and Dinsdale was on hand once again to touch down in the corner for a superbly worked try. Watts’ conversion blew wide but the scene was set for a grand finale. Driffield 20 – 25 B&B.
Either side looked capable of scoring and of making costly mistakes in the tricky conditions. Home line-out ball went wayward and from the ensuing scrum a penalty conceded. Bees pushed the ball deep into touch and retained the line-out but the ball was stolen in a great turn over and Watts once again put in a fine clearance kick.
Down to the last minutes and the Woldsmen were throwing everything in to try and secure what had seemed for large parts of the game an unlikely win, but as the seconds ticked away the and the last desperate offload went loose the whistle blew and Bradford had hung on to their lead and secured a deserved victory.
For the home side? They should have nothing but pride in a really gutsy performance. The youngsters Sowersby x 2, Rowbottom, Parkinson and Jackson all acquitted themselves really well and at the other end of the scale Grey, Dervey and Cooper put in a great shift. James Dinsdale had a great game and his brother on the wing just can’t stop scoring tries, so although it was another defeat and our injury list has now grown, there is room for much optimism. After all the harder you work, the luckier you get, and this set of players have proved they can work hard.
Next week we travel to Scarborough who are heading the pack at the moment after a great start to the season, that should make for a really interesting encounter!