Driffield traveled to North Shields on Saturday to play Percy Park looking to get back to winning ways after two disappointing losses. An ever-mounting injury list saw Jackson and Rowbottom return to the starting lineup, and Farnsworth come in to the wing for his first team debut to cover the injuries picked up last week to Brankley, Furbank, Soanes and Murray. In the forwards, Dervey returned with Zavatti on the bench.
Park has traditionally been a happy hunting ground for the Woldsmen but with so many changes getting the win was never going to be easy, and so it proved.
Park started brightly showing their intent early and soon had the visitors pinned back in their own 22 – only good defence from the Woldsmen kept them at bay with Mewburn, G standing out. As Park worked through the phases, Driffield were penalised right in front of the posts for not rolling away, presenting their hosts with an easy three points. Percy Park 3 – 0 Driffield.
From the restart the ball went straight into touch and from the ensuing scrum on half-way Park moved the ball smartly, showing good handling skills. This was aided, one would have to say, by some missed tackles from the Driffield backs, and Park were soon over for their first try as they worked the extra man and cruised over in the corner. Percy Park 10 – 0 Driffield.
Driffield needed to steady the ship quickly, and they managed to do so. Watts was kicking intelligently to make a good touch after a patient build-up, then good turnover ball, allowed debutant Farnsworth to make a good little run. Morris was on hand to support but Park were penalised for hands in the ruck and Watts shunted the ball into the left-hand corner. After a couple of drives the ball was knocked on but, from the resulting scrum, the Driffield pack put great pressure on the home forwards. However, Park managed to clear the ball down field.
Building again, the Woldsmen went through the phases with the Mewburn boys ever present, But they struggled to get far out of their own 22 and, when the ball was lost in the tackle, Park pounced driving the ball in short then running wide with some slick passes to score in the corner making the score Percy Park 15 – 0 Driffield.
Park were looking lively in attack and very sharp in defence, showing a cohesion that was, understandably, missing from the visiting backs. Individually there was no lack of effort from the Woldsmen : Tom Sowersby putting in a try-saving tackle when it looked like the day might get worse, and Jackson showing glimpses of what he can do with ball in hand but the Driffield line was under great pressure and a penalty saw Park stretch their lead to Percy Park 18 – 0 Driffield.
In the tight things were going ok for the men in blue, the lineout was generally good and the scrums solid. The team was showing intent to run and, from one part-break, James Dinsdale put in a great off-load to Mewburn, G who broke a couple of would-be tackles before being tackled into touch, after which the half-time whistle blew.
Driffield started the second half well. From another good scrum Watts was able to kick down-field finding touch well into enemy territory.
Park picked up a yellow card and it felt like the visitors were well in the game at this point, with Mewburn, G having an outstanding game, Jackson again showing good movement with ball in hand. But the Park defence was very abrasive. First Zavatti and then Watts with a darting lunge nearly got over for the score, before Sowersby deservedly crashed over to open Driffield’s account, Watts adding the points to make it Percy Park 18 – 7 Driffield.
The visiting supporters, of whom there were many, must have thought that the tide was turning in Driffield’s favour. Sadly this was not to be for, although there was much endeavour and good individual performances, Park were not going to yield. The home defence was aggressive and they were well-organised and in attack. They would have considered themselves unlucky not to add to their half-time score, having one score chalked off for a crossing offence.
For the Woldsmen it was to be a tough day at the office, While there was no lack of effort they found their opponents in top form and it has to be said were second best on the day. The final whistle blew with, like last week, the visitors winning the second half but not the points.
Thankfully there is a break now for a couple of weeks, hopefully to allow a few injuries to mend and the squad to regather their focus. Malton in a fortnight at Kelleythorpe will be an altogether different occasion and someone sometime is going to feel the brunt of a backlash born out of three very frustrating weeks.