The first weekend of September saw the start of the new rugby season with York making the trip to a resplendent-looking Kelleythorpe. After losing twice to the visitors last season, Driffield would have known they were in for a tough start to the season and so it proved. A trio of returning faces in Furbank, Dodds and Girking joined new recruit Davies in the starting lineup with George Mewburn the noticeable absentee from last season’s line up.
The opening exchanges were scrappy and probably demonstrated some early-season rustiness with neither side able to keep hold of the ball. York looked the more dangerous and had the first opportunity for points with a penalty which the visiting fly-half converted. Driffield 0 – 3 York.
A slick move created space for York’s outside backs, and it was only last-ditch defence from Driffield that stopped them notching the first score. On the rare occasion that Driffield did keep the ball, they looked dangerous, both backs and forwards showing good skills to off-load out of tackles and create pressure. York worked hard on the floor all day and turned Driffield over, using the wind to pin them back in their half. A quick line-out put Watts under pressure and York pinched the ball. From the resulting phase Robinson put in a bad tackle and saw yellow, whilst the resulting penalty stretched the lead to 6 points. Driffield 0 – 6 York.
Driffield hit back when a York line-out was overthrown. Cullen picked up the loose ball and charged into the heart of the York defence, drawing the penalty which Watts converted to narrow the gap. Driffield 3 – 6 York.
Driffield added a try shortly afterwards. Brankley off-loaded out of the tackle and found Dodds who did likewise. Jackson carried hard down the wing, beating defenders with dancing feet and bouncing out of tackles. He was hauled down, but Furbank found Brankley who crossed near the posts leaving Watts with a straightforward conversion. Driffield 10 – 6 York.
York hit back immediately with a try from the impressive fly-half. After a knock on at a line-out, York were awarded a scrum. Scrappy ball reached the fly-half, who checked inside and showed good pace to cross next to the posts leaving himself an easy conversion. This left the score Driffield 10 – 13 York at half time.
The second half started in much the same fashion as the first with neither side able to grasp control of the game. York suffered a blow when their fly-half suffered a head knock and had to leave the pitch. It didn’t seem to hamper them as they claimed the next try. Driffield invited pressure on themselves, gifting York a penalty just inside their half. This was kicked to touch deep inside the Driffield twenty-two and they conceded another penalty from which York opted for a scrum. The ball was worked blind for the winger to cross in the corner, but too far out for the conversion to be successful. Driffield 10 – 18 York.
York were on top now, and the Driffield defence was splintered again by a break from the visitors’ man of the match, with their second row picking a great line.
Driffield needed to change the momentum and they scored an excellent try from a midfield scrum. Furbank moved the ball wide to new boy Davies, and he straightened just enough to hold his man before finding Watts. He moved it to Jackson and he showed power and pace to cross out wide. Driffield 15 – 18 York.
With time running out Driffield regained the lead with a try from captain Mewburn. A succession of penalties gave Driffield the chance to move down the pitch. Furbank probed the line, before Sowersby carried it further. Driffield kept pressing and it was Mewburn in the right place to touch down, close enough to the posts for Watts to add the extras extending the lead to Driffield 22 – 18 York. .
York still had time to cause the home side some nervous moments, before Robinson kicked the ball to touch to give Driffield the opening day victory. Driffield will be delighted to pick up the points on the opening day against a dangerous York side, before moving on next week to newly promoted Durham City.