Today’s encounter was likely to be a close contest, and local derbies are always unpredictable. Back in October, when we travelled to York for our first match against them, the 1st XV had a great afternoon, coming away with a nail-biter win 19-24. Driffield just managed to sneak home on the scoreboard although they deserved the win, scoring the decisive try in the last few minutes of the game.
The evenly-matched sides both got straight into the action and, for the first twenty minutes, play ebbed backward and forward between the two 10-metre lines. Finally, on 21 minutes, York got through to the Driffield 22 where they were awarded a penalty in front of the sticks. Sensing the opportunity, the scrum-half took a quick tap and went for the sticks, only to be tackled by McKinnon who had not retreated the required ten. The ball was popped up and the try was scored and converted. To add to the pain. McKinnon was shown yellow. Driffield 0 – 7 York
Just five minutes later, with a man over, York scored a brilliant try to widen the gap. From a penalty on the right side of the pitch and five metres behind their own half-way line, the kick went cross-field to the unmarked opposite winger. The ball bounced kindly and he raced down the line, before the covering tackle stopped him ten yards out. The ball was popped to the centre on his shoulder, who went in for the try, but too far out for the conversion. Driffield 0 – 12 York
York now had their tails up, and ran in another try just two minutes later, but the conversion was again missed. Driffield 0 – 17 York
With the yellow card now over, and Driffield back to full strength, they came back at York. With ten minutes left in the half, Dinsdale found a way through wide out to the left, but the conversion was missed. Driffield 5 – 17 York
After the restart, Falkingham had to retire early with a knee injury and the pack reshuffled.
With seconds left in the half, starting from half-way, Mewburn found a way round the York defence on the right side of the pitch. Although he was stopped, he popped the ball allowing further progress to be made, before he was on-hand to take the final pass and go in for the score. Watts kicked the conversion to make it Driffield 12 – 17 York at half time.
In the second half, York started well, with their forwards being dominant in the tight, and the pressure paid after ten minutes with a converted try. Driffield 12 – 24 York
Driffield then put York under sustained pressure for 15 minutes, camping in their 22. Finally, York were able to break out and worked their way up the park, converting a penalty with twenty minutes gone in the half. Driffield 12 – 27 York.
Driffield now needed three scores to win, and this seemed a big ask. Ten minutes of Driffield endeavour made little impact until, with just eight minutes left, Robinson took a quick tap from a penalty on the York 22, popped the ball to the rampaging Jenkinson, who went through a bewildered and comatose York defence to score under the sticks, leaving an easy conversion for Watts. Driffield 19 – 27 York.
York were still reeling from this when, just three minutes later, Watts went though for a try which he converted. Driffield 26 – 27 York
With seconds left on the clock, many supporters would have settled for two losing bonus points and York must have believed that they had the game in the bag. But a Driffield penalty was awarded near the 22 only ten metres in from touch. Watts stepped up and, cool as a cucumber, slotted the kick to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat as the final whistle went straight after. Driffield 29 – 27 York.
This was a thrilling encounter between two closely-matched sides. Driffield can rightly be pleased that they, once again, maintained their intensity for the full eighty minutes, but need to work hard on cutting the number of unforced handling errors. York will be gutted – to lose a game with three scores clear and eight minutes to play is a bitter pill to swallow.