The day’s game was against a team that sit mid-table and, on their day, are capable of beating anybody. At the away fixture, Driffield had to work hard to get a seven-point win earlier in the season. Coach Cooper knew the squad would have to play well to get the result desperately needed after some disappointing results in recent weeks.
The game was played in a lull between the high winds of Storms Dudley and Eunice. The forecast sleet started to fall before the game so that, by kick-off, the pitch was white over. It was touch and go whether the game could be played, as it was hard to see the lines, but the referee was happy enough. The second team turned around from their trip to Wharfedale, as conditions were so bad over in West Yorkshire.
As a tribute to Evesham RFC’s Jack Jeffery, players and supporters joined other clubs around the country in holding a minute’s respect ahead of kick-off. Like the whole of the rugby community, everyone’s thoughts are with Jack’s family, friends and all who knew and loved him.
Moortown kicked off and, although Driffield won the ball, were up fast, and charged down the attempted clearance, giving them possession in the Driffield 22. However, Driffield won it back, cleared their lines and got deep into the Moortown half where the defenders put the ball into touch.
Driffield lost the lineout, and Moortown spun the ball wide, reaching the right wing. In slippery conditions, the right wing did well to side-step the defence and tore down the line, running 60 metres to go in for the try on four minutes. Unusually at this level, the hooked stepped up to take the conversion, and slotted it from the five-metre line, giving the visitors an early seven-point lead. Driffield 0 – 7 Moortown
Driffield went straight back onto the attack, kicking deep and winning the ball back at the opponent’s 22, and used the forwards to go for the line. Robinson picked up from the base of the ruck ten metres out, sniped round the blind side and went in under the sticks. Watts converted and the score was seven apiece after six minutes. Driffield 7 – 7 Moortown
In increasingly cold and snowy conditions, both sides tried to play open running rugby, but handling errors were inevitable and a successful side-step was but a dream. Play ebbed and flowed between the two ten-metre lines, until twenty minutes had passed and Moortown were able to secure the ball and break out, reaching the 22. The ball was popped on a short pass to the full back, who hit the line at speed and went in for the score, again converted. Driffield 7 – 14 Moortown
From the restart, Moortown returned the ball back deep and Driffield started to work back upfield. However, with cold fingers, the ball was knocked on and Moortown had a scrum on the ten-metre line. They sent the ball right, and kicked it to the corner, but the ball did not go to touch and Driffield sent it back. However, a Driffield player had not retreated sufficiently and a penalty was awarded on the ten-metre line, this time missed.
Driffield worked their way back up the park, finally being awarded a scrum 30-metres out with half an hour gone. In difficult conditions, both packs kept their feet and Driffield secured the ball. Robinson whipped it out to the right, finding Harrison at speed. He went through the narrowest of gaps and went in for the score, but the conversion was missed and Driffield trailed by two. Driffield 12 – 14 Moortown
Driffield launched another assault, and kicked for the line reaching touch just five metres from the line. Moortown cleared the ball, but Johnson took it well and burst for the line reaching ten metres out. He was held up well in the tackle, the ball was ripped and Moortown returned to the attack.
After strong work in the midfield, Moortown moved the ball to the right and found space down the wing. With the cover tacklers closing in, the winger hacked the ball through, and beat the Driffield defence to touch it down in the corner. Once again, the hooker stepped up and converted from wide out, giving Moortown a nine-point lead going in to half time. Driffield 12 – 21 Moortown
Driffield kicked off the second half, and set their stall out to seize the game back. Winning a line out, Johnson carried well, allowing Driffield to launch a series of driving mauls that took them deep into the Moortown half. Finally, Turner got the ball over the line but it was judged to have been held up, and Moortown had the drop-out.
Driffield continued to batter the visitor’s lines until, six minutes in, Warren-Lambert crossed. Once again, he was adjudged to have been held up, and the line was cleared to touch.
At the lineout, the ball was sent long. Mewburn took it and carried well before finding Johnson who also made good ground. The forwards gathered in support and ground their way toward the line, going through countless phases until, finally, Robinson sniped round the side and went over the line. But, Moortown had managed to get an arm under the ball and the drop out was awarded.
Driffield once again pummelled the defence, with excellent work by Mewburn who got over the line but was judged to have been held up. From the drop out, Driffield won the ball and Robinson darted through, this time able to ground the ball successfully. Watts converted and Driffield trailed by two with 30 minutes to play. Driffield 19 – 21 Moortown
Moortown went back on the attack, and a series of driving mauls carried them deep into Driffield territory. They finally managed to cross the line but, this time, it was their turn to be held up.
Driffield cleared their lines into the Moortown half, but Moortown drove them back. Finding no way through the Driffield defence, they chipped it over the heads of the flat defence, and took the ball well to go in for the score wide out on sixty minutes. This time, the hooker’s excellent boot was not successful but the gap was now seven. Driffield 19 – 26 Moortown
Driffield launched repeated attacks over the course of five minutes, inching their way up the park. Finally, the ball went to the right and found Harrison. This time he beat his defence on the outside, and went around the back of the defence to get closer to the sticks and score the try. The conversion by Watts left the score at Driffield 26 – 26 Moortown
With ten minutes left to play, a Moortown kick to the 22 was caught well by Rix and the mark called. Sensing the opportunity, he took a quick tap and ran it out of defence showing great confidence and taking Driffield back into Moortown territory.
The ball was worked to the right where it found Murray who tore down the wing. Once again, the line was crossed but was adjudged to have been help up, so Moortown were able to clear their lines. This time Driffield attacked the left side of the pitch, looking for the try to seize the result, and crossed the line. To the dismay of the local support, it was once again held up
Moortown cleared their lines and kicked deep into the Driffield half where Rix was again on hand to take the ball and turn defence into attack.
With seconds left on the clock, Blacker made a strong run through the middle reaching fifteen metres out. At the ruck, Moortown were penalised for offside and a penalty awarded. Watts converted to give Driffield the victory as the final whistle followed, accompanied by a roar from the Driffield supporters and understandable disappointment from Moortown. Driffield 29 – 26 Moortown
Summing up, both sides did the best they could in appalling conditions that were never going to suit free-running rugby. They did well to handle the ball without more errors. Although they got two points, Moortown will be gutted that they did not get a draw – they deserved one. Driffield will be disappointed that, having crossed the line so many times, they were not successful with so many of them. However, they got the five points they need to keep them in the race for the top spot.
With both Ilkley and Heath’s games postponed due to bad weather, Driffield now sit three points clear at the top, but their nearest rivals both have two games in hand. It is still all to play for in this league.