Storm Arwen played a significant part in the day’s events with trees down and trucks stuck in snow on the M62. Three of the seven North One East fixtures were postponed because of the weather, and Scarborough’s 2nd and 3rd XVs didn’t feel able to make the short trip for their planned games at Driffield.
Nevertheless, the 1st XV and a coachload of supporters made the trip to Wagon Lane in Bingley for their game against bottom of the league Bradford & Bingley. Coach Cooper knew that this was not a game they could afford to take for granted – even against a side that had lost 98-0 at Moortown the week before.
The squad was similar to the previous week, with the usual front row rotations, Sowersby in at scrum half for Robinson and debuts for Henry Harrison and Charlie Foxton. Watts moved from stand-off to full back. There was talk in the days leading up to the game of a recruitment drive by Bees and their side looked to have a strong South Pacific contingent.
On a cold day with snow clearly visible on the hills, but not a flake to be seen on the pitch, Driffield played the first half with the strong wind behind them. The weather conditions were bound to influence the style of play – this was not a day for long looping passes, but rather for shorter passes and wingers getting involved wherever they could in order to stay warm.
Driffield got into action straight away and, after just four minutes, were awarded a penalty that Watts converted.
From the restart, Driffield collected the ball and worked it through several phases starting from their own 22, until Sowersby made one of his characteristic sniping breaks and went through for the try, converted by Watts, to give Driffield a ten-point lead after just eight minutes. Could this be another cricket score against Bees ?
Driffield were getting the balance of play and territory and the strong wind made it difficult for Bees to clear their lines, so it seemed inevitable that the pressure would produce results. These came on fifteen minutes, when Driffield secured the ball from a ruck on Bees’ 22, followed by a strong run by Brankley who off-loaded to Murray to go in for the try, converted by Watts to extend Driffield’s lead.
From the restart, the same pattern developed until, on 25 minutes in an entirely similar move to the previous try, Brankley picked up from the back of the ruck and powered on. On this occasion, he muscled his way through two defenders and went in for the try himself, again converted by Watts.
Bees, perhaps not in the best of humour because of the weather and frustrated by their lack of possession and territory niggled, and this led to a yellow card on 30 minutes for Bees following a spat involving Murray.
With a man down it was only a matter of time before Driffield would score again. This came five minutes later when Sowersby was up in support to take a clever inside pass following a strong rung up the wing and go in for the try, again converted.
The half finished with a try by Bees, who worked a recycled ball through the hands. The reliable Driffield defence that we have become accustomed to, failed, and Malthouse went through the centre. With a lack of any kind of tackling, he scored under the posts, converted by Hockenhull to make it Bees 7 – 31 Driffield.
In the second half Bees had the wind at their back, although it had eased a little, and they were able to take more territory. However, there were too many unforced errors and the frustration caused more niggle. Driffield’s defence held solid for over 20 minutes, until the referee showed Robson yellow for a high tackle. With a man over, Bees were able to benefit and Akauola went through for a try very similar to their first, bursting through the centre. Hockenhull again converted.
From the restart, play moved back and forth between the 10-metre lines until, with less than ten minutes to go, Scurry broke through from the Bees’ 10 and breached the 22 where he was caught. He stood up well in the tackle and released the ball cleanly to Turner, who scooted though to pass the last defender and score under the sticks, making a straightforward conversion for Watts.
This was the last score of the game, finishing Bees 14 – 38 Driffield.
As expected, the weather played a significant part on the game, limiting what Driffield’s flowing backs could do, meaning that all Driffield’s tries were scored by the forwards / scrum-half. Watts’ kicking was outstanding with a 100% record in difficult conditions. There were unforced errors by both sides, influenced by cold hands and unpredictable gusts, and Driffield did well to maintain their discipline.
The five-point win takes them four points clear at the top of the table with Old Brodleians losing narrowly at Heath.