Driffield travelled over to Moss Valley on one of their shorter away trips of the season, on a grey and drizzly day that offered little cheer from the point of view of the weather, but with the hope of a win against close contenders in the current table.
There were a few changes to the line-up. Ramsden was not available so Pettinger moved to the role of hooker, with Furbank making his return at prop. Robinson and Brigham were unavailable, so Tom Sowersby came in at scrum half and Watts moved from full-back to stand-off. Scurry returned from injury, taking his place on the wing. And joining the bench was Cullen, back on loan from Hull.
The team warmed up on the back pitch, which was boggy and did not bode well for the game, which, if the main pitch had the same heavy conditions, would have suited the heavier Moortown pack. However, the kick-off saw a main pitch in much better condition and a return of clear skies.
The early contest was evenly matched, trading territory and possession until 13 minutes when there was the first opportunity for Driffield to score – the penalty attempt by Watts went wide.
Driffield’s forwards were now matching the heavier Moortown pack, and drove them into their own 22. After sustained pressure, Brankley carried the ball over the try line but was held up. Following the reset, Moortown found a gap in the Driffield three-quarters and their centre raced away for a converted try to give Moortown a seven-point lead after 20 minutes of play.
From the restart, Driffield took the attack back into the Moortown half with the forwards starting to get the upper hand. Eventually, on 28 minutes, Driffield claimed their first of three forward’s tries with Turner going over, converted by Watts.
Nellen was unlucky not to score another for the forwards, when his 40-metre run was stopped just short of the Moortown line.
With the game balanced at seven each, Driffield continued to turn the screws, but it was Moortown who scored next, just before half-time. The converted try put them back in a seven-point lead.
In the second half, the forwards continued to get the better of the opposition, not by bulk but by better technique and fitness. The impact of Cullen, on from the bench, was noticeable and credit must go to Furbank, playing a full 80 minutes in his comeback game. The solid platform created by the forwards allowed the backs to play excellent flowing rugby.
Sowersby, at scrum-half, gained the confidence to send out long miss-passes, opening up the wide outside for the wingers to gain territory. Five minutes into the second half, one of these found the hands of Scurry, who rocketed down the touchline for an excellent try, unconverted, narrowing the gap to two points.
Against the run of play, on 52 minutes, Moortown got through for an unconverted try when an excellent cross-kick by the scrum-half was delivered to the waiting winger, standing wide. He evaded the cover tackle and was able to score wide out, stretching the lead back to seven with the score at 19-12.
Now, the increasing confidence of the Driffield squad allowed them to put on a first class display of running rugby, securing quick ball and delivering it safely, and they looked as good as any team they have played all season.
Rob Murray was the next to score, with an excellent try converted by Watts to bring the scores level at 19 each.
With the backs now throwing the ball around the pitch, rarely missing a man or dropping the ball, it was a surprise that the next two tries were scored by forwards and not backs. First, on 61 minutes, Turner crossed the whitewash for a converted try and the bonus point, and then replacement Robson shortly after, again converted to give Driffield the lead by 12 points with eight minutes to go.
The travelling supporters held their breath, hoping that this valuable two-score lead would not be squandered. The defence held up well, and territory was traded back and forth until, with two minutes to go, Moortown got their try bonus point with a converted try for the last score of the game.
This was an excellent away win for Driffield. The defence was outstanding, the mobile forwards got the better of the opposition and the backs’ play was ‘champagne class’. In the words of one supporter : “As good as I have ever seen them. But for one or two dropped passes Driffield may have scored more.” And Moortown were worthy opponents, with a game played in good spirits, and well worth their try bonus point.
The win takes Driffield to third in the league, just two points behind Ilkley and Old Brodleians. They now have a week off, before two home games in a row, against Old Brodleians and then Heath,
Report by Brad Webster