Driffield needed a win to keep pace with the top of the league. The loss at Cleckheaton the previous weekend meant there was a five-point gap to the top two, and with trips to Alnwick and Heath, and Ilkley visiting in November, five points points against Phoenix would be very welcome. Phoenix has lived up to its name, recovering from a poor start to the season and picking up recent wins.
On a grey, gloomy, autumn day both sides got straight into the action. Initial contests were fierce, but Phoenix gave away a penalty on the 22 after 7 minutes, and Watts stepped up to convert and give Driffield an early lead 3-0.
It was another 11 minutes before there was another score when Phoenix again transgressed, giving away an almost identical penalty opportunity which Watts also slotted 6-0.
Both sides were running the ball when they could, but meeting stiff defence and unable to find any gaps until the 28th minute when Phoenix found a gap for the try, converted to make it 6-7.
They followed this up five minutes later with a penalty 6-10.
With half-time imminent, Watts converted another penalty to leave Driffield trailing by just a point when the whistle went 9-10.
The second half continued the pattern of the first, with no lack of endeavour from either side and both defences being solid. But Phoenix gave away penalties, and Watts took a further two to give Driffield the lead 15-10.
With just ten minutes to go, Jack Sowersby found a gap in the centre on the half-way line, and weaved his way through the attempted cover tackles to score Driffield’s first try. Watts missed this one, making it 20-10.
Buoyed by this, the Driffield forwards took the game to Phoenix and, just five minutes later, Brankley went in for a try which Watts converted 27-10.
But Phoenix were not down yet, and, in the last minute, got their second try to make the full-time score 27-15.
With Heath losing at home, and Billingham winning at Ilkley to leapfrog Heath, the top three remain the same and Driffield have closed the gap to Heath. Alnwick’s away win brings them to a point behind, so the trip up to Alnwick next weekend has added sigificance.