After a below-par performance last week where the Woldsmen were fortunate to gain a draw against Durham, hopes were high of a return to form and winning ways as the team set off for Kendal. Davies moved to nine with Robinson starting on the wing, Watts at fullback and Longville at ten.
As the visitors travelled further west the clouds grew and the wind strengthened and the rain began to fall and one felt that the weather was going to play a significant part in the game.
The pitch at Kendal’s new and very impressive facility looked in good nick, but the wind swirled the rain around the floodlights which were on from the start of the game due to the darkness of the day, and it was obvious that whoever impressed themselves on the game first was going to be difficult to catch. And so it proved.
From the kick-off Driffield were immediately under pressure as Kendal pressed and harried, not helped by a couple of wayward passes. The visitors soon found themselves pinned back right on their own line. However, with good work from Maling,Turner and Brankley carrying hard against committed defence they managed to work the ball far enough back up field for Watts to clear to touch. From the lineout the hosts drove forward and a harsh penalty conceded for not rolling away presented a chance for Weightman to kick for the corner. From the lineout Kendal drove forward, meeting stiff defence from the visitors. After a couple of drives Driffield once again conceded a penalty and quick-thinking Houghton took a quick tap and bundled his way over for the opening score. The vicious wind thwarted Weightman’s conversion attempt but Kendal had the start they wanted and the Woldsmen knew they had their work cut out.
Dominant in the scrums, and with Watts and Blacker keen to run from deep, Driffield started to look dangerous. Blacker fielded a kick deep and fed Watts who ran well before putting in a good pass to Robinson who was up well in support carrying the ball to the hosts’ ten-meter line. From the breakdown, Davies fed the ever-present Brumfield who made ground before recycling the ball to Maling. The ball was just edged forward in the tackle but the signs were good, and when the Driffield pack drove the home forwards back in the scrum, one felt they would soon gain some reward.
However it was Kendal who scored next. After they had managed to clear their lines they took play deep into the visitors 22. A great tackle from Turner stalled the attack but with the referee once again penalising Driffield and giving advantage, Weightman calmly slotted a drop-goal to make it 8-0.
Tensions were high, and mistakes frequent, as the visitors fought for a foothold in the game. Brankley was well-marshalled by the Kendal defence but Cullen, Maling and co were always on-hand to carry the ball forward. Eventually, right on half-time, it was Maling who got his just reward with a try to the right of the posts. Kicking into the now storm-force wind, Watts missed the conversion but the half ended with Driffield definitely in the ascendancy.
A good start is what the visitors wanted to the second half but it was Kendal who once again asserted the early pressure as Driffield struggled to control the ball in the conditions. elly carried well but the ball was spilt once again giving Kendal the scrum. However, the Driffield pack were again dominant pushing Kendal off the ball and Davies set off on great little break only for the ball to be dropped once more.
One started to get the feeling that it wasn’t going to be the Woldsmen’s day as ground conditions worsened. When Jenkinson was binned for joining an affray after Brumfield had been felled by a dangerously high tackle that went unpunished, Weightman again kicked to the corner and the pressure was on again.
Kendal sensed the opportunity to strike driving at the Driffield line, slowly moving the play to centre field. Great defence with all hands to the pumps steadied their advance but once again the referee awarded Kendal the advantage which they took with a couple of smart passes to Carlton on the wing for a score in the corner. 13-5
Longville was replaced by Furbank after the Aussie ten had taken a crunching late tackle, and the replacement ten immediately looked dangerous stepping through a gap and making good ground, well-supported by Jenkinson and Turner. However the home defence was good and once again the ball was lost forward. Weightman kicked long to the right wing and all that Blacker could do was field the ball and get tackled into touch.
A scrum followed as Driffield were adjudged to have knocked on in the line and although the home scrum was under great pressure they worked the ball wide and Johnson scored in the corner with twenty minutes to go. 18-5
As the clock ticked down and the pitch became more and more wet, Driffield threw everything at their hosts. Brumfield was ever-present and Dinsdale, J put in a typically honest performance. They pressurised the Kendal line whose defence held strong. Olly Borman, Furbank, H and Turner all came close with drives to the line but the ball was eventually held up, giving a scrum to Driffield. The home pack once again collapsed under the pressure and, for the first time in the game, at 78 minutes ,were awarded a scrum penalty. Taking a quick tap, which may have seemed the wrong choice given the pressure the blue pack were exerting on the home pack, they once again drove at the line and eventually after some desperate attacking and defence it was Brumfield who finally touched down half way out on the left. This left Watts to salvage a losing bonus point with a typically cool kick into the howling gale which he made look easy.
Kendal deserved their win. They took their chances well and defended with great heart. Although the Woldsmen will be bitterly disappointed with their start to the new year they should be proud of a much-improved performance in atrocious conditions, that showed real character especially in gaining a bonus point – we know from experience these can prove invaluable when it gets to the serious end of the season.