This was a tough day at the office for Driffield’s walking wounded.
Driffield travelled to the Laund Hill stadium on Saturday buoyed by recent form but once again hit hard by injury and unavailability. YMCA has not been a happy hunting ground for the Woldsmen in recent years and so it turned out to be on a day when valiant effort had to give way to overall superiority.
Brumfield made a return to hooker after a long lay-off to fill in the gap created by Jack Sowersby who had succumbed to a neck injury and, with both Warkup and Cooper injured, the second row pairing was Dinsdale and Walgate.
Driffield started the game like an express train tearing into their hosts, playing a fast and exciting style of rugby. Turn-over ball enabled Gray to get his backs moving with Watts at ten timing his pass well to put Mewburn away on one of his trademark marauding runs down the left-hand side. The ball was recycled quickly and slung right. From the break-down Gray dummied smartly and waltzed over the line unopposed under the sticks to give Watts an easy conversion : with barely 2 minutes played Huddersfield 0 – 7 Driffield.
Straight from the restart the Woldsmen were back on the offensive. Dench, looking to lead by example, ran hard before timing a good pass to Ben Dinsdale who made great yards before slipping the ball to Cullen in support. Again, quick recycling and great support work gave Gray the opportunity to catch the home defence on their heels once more with a dummy and give to Walgate, who was on hand to dive over the line again under the posts to Watts another easy two points – 7 minutes gone : Huddersfield 0 – 14 Driffield.
The Woldsmen were seemingly on fire, playing great rugby at good pace they were giving their opponents no time to re-group. Once again Dinsdale made good yards down the left before slipping a little pop-pass to Murray in support, who cleverly wormed his way over in the corner. Though Watts narrowly-missed with the conversion, all was looking well : Huddersfield 0 – 19 Driffield
Zavatti was punching holes and Mewburn was always a threat, very nearly scoring himself after another great pacey run. James Dinsdale, as ever, was producing a mature performance and Cullen, Turner and Walgate working hard around the field. At some stage YMCA were sure to respond and they did so after twenty minutes when they managed to engineer good field position and, although the visitors’ scrum held up well close to their own line, the ball was moved left. Good but over-zealous defence was penalised and Bradley took a quick tap and dived through to score catching the Woldsmen napping : Huddersfield 5 – 19 Driffield.
Now it was the host’s turn to grab the initiative, running from deep with players coming onto the ball at pace they moved back into Woldsman territory, Chappell kicked through and under pressure the ball squirted out of Jackson’s grip to be fielded by the attack. Furbank was on-hand with a last-ditch tackle but not before the offload to the supporting YMCA player who scored under the posts. Huddersfield 12 – 19 Driffield.
The home side really had their tails up now and, with Gray battling on one-legged and Dinsdale, B also struggling, the Woldsmen’s task was looking more and more difficult. A fantastic work ethic exists within the squad and as the home side grew in confidence some stout defence was on show. Mewburn, Blenkinsop and Dench all to the fore, but cracks were appearing and despite some good carrying under pressure Driffield struggled to get clear until a great tackle from Watts enabled Gray to turn over possession and gain a penalty. This allowed Watts to push the ball down-field to relieve the pressure momentarily. However, ball retention was becoming a problem as Driffield struggled to keep possession for any length of time and the pressure from Huddersfield was relentless. This time, stout defence was not enough to stop a score which saw half time come with the sides all square at Huddersfield 19 – 19 Driffield.
Driffield started the second half much as they had the first, brightly moving the ball with some great work by Jackson out of defence looking to open the game up. But all too often the final pass went forward or to ground. Wounded hero Gray was feeding the ever-industrious Walgate and Turner, and Rowbottom on for Zavatti was showing well in both the loose and the tight. Unfortunately the visitors were pinged for holding on and Huddersfield kicked the penalty from the half-way to take the lead for the first time, and matters got worse two minutes later when the home centre Stead chipped the ball through and with a kind bounce the hosts were two scores clear. Huddersfield 29 – 19 Driffield
As time wore on, YMCA asserted their authority despite some really gutsy defence from the Driffield side. They ran with pace and strength to stretch their lead to Huddersfield 50 – 19 Driffield.
As if that was not enough, the visitors first lost Dinsdale, who eventually succumbed to the knock incurred in the first minutes of the game, and Jackson with damaged ribs. This meant that Cullen, who had been replaced after a knock to the knee, had to return to the field on the wing.
With the last play of the game Driffield secured a bonus-point try as Dench, who had worked like a Trojan all day, flung a long pass out to Cullen who limped over in the corner to gain Driffield a just reward on what was a really tough afternoon against very competent opponents. Huddersfield 50 – 24 Driffield.
Disappointed though everyone was at the result, the way the lads worked for one another when their backs were against the wall was admirable and there were enough good passages of play to remind the stout band of travelling support that we have a squad with real flair. We just need a bit of luck on the injury front.
Next week it’s Morpeth at home : another big test for the boys in blue, black and white.