Saturday brought the return of cup rugby to Kelleythorpe and the visit of Sheffield Tigers. After the successful visit to the coast the previous weekend, Driffield opted to field a much changed side, but also one which demonstrated the strength in depth of the senior sides. A perfect afternoon for rugby greeted the sides and it was the Woldsmen who started brightest, probing the visitors defence and showing good cohesion for a side which hadn’t played together on many occasions.
It was Sheffield who struck first however when, not for the first time during the afternoon, they moved the ball sharply across the back line for the winger to cross in the corner. Sheffield came straight back on the attack when a high kick was spilled and picked up by the onrushing Tigers players. They showed good pace but Driffield hauled them down short of the line, conceding a penalty in the process. A kick to touch followed and a move back to the blindside saw a try in the corner.
Driffield conceded a penalty from the restart, inviting pressure on themselves. Apart from the opening five minutes they had struggled to control the ball and, when they did, winning a lineout close to their own line, they spilled the ball and gave Tigers good field position. Driffield defended well and repelled the first attack, but from a scrum in midfield, Tigers worked the ball across the back line to find the same winger to score the third try of the afternoon.
Driffield needed to find a foothold in the game, and Cullen gave it to them. From a scrum on half way he picked up and set off blind, before straightening up and accelerating through the gap. Leaving his support behind, he continued alone, rounding the visiting full back and scoring under the posts. Sowersby converted leaving the score 7-15.
Tigers hit straight back however, widening the gap to fifteen points with another try through the winger. Slick work in the backs again created space and a combination of good finishing and missed tackles enabled the score. Driffield replied with a penalty before half time from Sowersby after strong carrying from captain Murray.
The second half was scoreless for a long time, but not for lack of endeavour. Tigers start the half strongly, but met fierce defence from the home side with Cullen and Furbank to the fore. On an incursion to the Tigers half, Rowbottom hit a smart line and was dragged down just short of the line, and Zavatti showed well earning turnovers on the floor.
When Tigers moved the ball wide they again looked dangerous, cutting through the midfield. Recycled ball was moved wide, but met with stout defence. Respite was short-lived. Driffield won the lineout, but had the ball stripped. Tigers moved the ball wide and scored in the opposite corner. Driffield’s spirit came to the fore, well led by senior players. Murray made yards through the middle, pumping his legs to get momentum for his side. Furbank chipped through and the ball bounced up for a Driffield try out wide, well-converted by Sowersby.
Driffield finished the game on top. Burdass broke down the wing and passed inside to Rowbottom, who made progress towards the line. Driffield recycled with Cullen carrying hard, earning Driffield a penalty. With Tigers down to fourteen men, Driffield took the option of a scrum and made serene progress towards the Tigers line, falling only at the final hurdle with Cullen adjudged to have knocked on over the line. That brought an end to Driffield’s attack and with it the final whistle, leaving the score 17-27.
Tigers were deserved winners, but Driffield showed great heart and no little skill to push them to the final whistle. On a day when half of the scheduled cup games were conceded as walk overs both sides deserve credit for putting on a closely contested affair. Driffield move on to a tough looking home encounter with Cleckheaton next weekend hoping to build some momentum as the season reaches its half way point.