The Woldsmen travelled to South Shields for Saturday’s North One East game against Westoe who, although struggling at the lower end of the league, have shown signs of much improvement in their recent fixtures.
North One East
South Shields Westoe …..13
Driffield 1st XV……………..25
The game was played on a 3G all weather pitch at Harton Technology College due to Westoe’s regular pitch being unplayable. Conditions, apart from being bitterly cold, were ideal for rugby, with no wind and it was dry.
The early exchanges were robust, with Westoe’s heavy pack driving into the visitors with gusto. Having soaked up the early pressure, it was the Woldsmen who were first on the score sheet when their hosts were penalised for not releasing.
Brigham confidently stepped up to kick the penalty and make it 0-3 to Driffield. However, Driffield failed to gather the restart, a problem that persisted all game, and Westoe were immediately on the attack.
Strong drives were met by determined defence but an infringement by the visitors led to a penalty which Westoe, showing their intent, kicked to the corner. The catch and drive again was met with organised defence, but after the home side rather unluckily had a try disallowed, they finally crossed for a score following a quick tap from a further penalty which was converted. 7-3 to Westoe.
From the restart Driffield put the pressure on. A major feature of the game was the organisation and tenacity of the Woldsmen’s tackling, with Borman, Brankley and Havler to the fore and Brigham flying the flag for the backs with some excellent chop tackles.
Westoe put a 22 straight into touch and from the ensuing scrum and a couple of drives, Driff won a penalty which saw one of the home forwards binned. Brigham kicked into the corner, Harrison secured the lineout ball and Borman drove over for a great try that again showed good organisation and intent. This time the Brigham was wide with the conversion attempt. 7-8.
Once again Driffield failed to gather the restart and Westoe were awarded a penalty which Moffet kicked to make it 10-8. The lead changed hands again when from some well-recycled ball, Stephenson set off on a typically classy run and found Blacker on his inside, with the young winger finishing well under the posts. Brigham kicked the extra points to make it 10-15.
Driffield finished the half with 14 men after Stephenson went from saint to sinner, yellow carded for offside. The home side started the second half well, putting the Woldsmen under great pressure but it was the visitors who claimed the first points when the referee once again got out his yellow card to bin Reeder. Brigham stepped up to kick the points. 10- 18.
Westoe then put Driffield under great pressure with short drives and half breaks but the visitors defence once again was outstanding. For long periods, the hosts hammered at the door but the confidence and application by the visitors was resolute. Havler, who had been outstanding all afternoon, was judged to have entered a breakdown from an offside position and once again the ref reached for his yellow card.
Down to 14 men again, Driff dug deep and although Westoe were awarded a penalty which Moffet kicked to bring the home side within a score, one always felt that the momentum was with the men in Blue. Both teams continued to try to run the ball but there were many errors as the game loosened up. Branckley snatched a turn over to win the ball then rejoined the line to break through the home defence and off load to Harry Sheader on the wing, who pulled his man in and then sprinted past him to score in the corner for the decisive try. Of course, Brigham stepped up and converted from the touch line to make it 25-13 to the visitors.
The scoring was done but the game not over and the referee still had time to issue two more yellow cards to the visitors, some would say rather harshly, but nevertheless something to be born in mind going forward.
This was a very important win, being a potential banana skin and whilst the game never flowed, there were patterns that emerged that will give much encouragement for the coming weeks. Despite having to rejig the back line because of several injuries and unavailability, Driffield still had a cutting edge out wide and creativity in the middle.
The line-out functioned really well, the aggression and organisation in defence was excellent and most pleasing of all was the way the home pack was thwarted in their attempts to catch and drive, a tactic that has been the undoing of the Woldsmen so many times in the past. Northern at home this week and a chance to really pull away from the bottom end of the table.
After this result confidence will be high but Northern have had some good results of late and Driffield will have to repeat the level of commitment and cut out the yellow cards to get a result. Not every team will let you get away with playing half the game with 14 men. However, this team is shaping up into a really good side and the work on the training field seems to be paying off on a Saturday.
Saturday’s fixtures :-
Beverley v Morpeth
Doncaster Phoenix v S. Shields Westoe
Driffield v Northern
Guisborough v Alnwick
Percy Park v Pocklington
West Hartlepool v Morley
Wheatley Hills v Dinnington