Driffield RUFC 1st XV 17 v 14 Malton & Norton
Weather concerns earlier in the week had prompted a massive effort at Kelleythorpe, with the pitch being covered to ensure that this local derby took place.By the end of the game those volunteers, who ranged from the mini section up to the more senior of senior members, must have thought, quite rightly, that their work had been very worthwhile.
Not only had the biggest crowd of the season been treated to a fantastically hard fought and evenly matched game, but the result went the way of the Woldsmen to lift them out of the relegation zone.
Both sides have been playing some great rugby all season and, on occasion, haven’t had the rub of the green.
This is a particularly tough league and it seems that though two have been cast adrift at the bottom, the third relegation place will be taken by one of seven good sides.
Driffield were left in no doubt of this as Malton made a ferocious start to the game, soon pegging the Woldsmen back in their own 22.
Good driving play and slick hands saw a gap ap pear in the home defence which Malton exploited to open their account with a well taken score close to the sticks which was improved to make the score 7 0 after 12 minutes.
In the earlier league game at Malton, the home side were absolutely dominant in the scrummage and though for most of the game they held the up per hand in that department on Saturday, the Driffield pack largely managed to contain the threat much to the frustration of the visiting front row. Skipper Dervey and second row Cooper employed all their guile and experience to combat that ever present threat.
One of the main features of the game, probably the difference between the sides, was Driffield’s ability to retain possession and for fifteen minutes they did just that, building phase after phase and pushing deeper into Malton’s half. To their credit the visiting defence held and they always posed a threat on the counter.
The home side’s line outs were working well, providing good ball for Grey to set his backs moving. Brigham at 10 looked assured and with Blacker in good form and Robinson ever likely to make something happen, a score looked inevitable.
Still, Malton’s resilience showed but a penalty conceded saw Brigham push it just wide and when one of the stars of the season, Ben Dinsdale, had to leave the field with a recurring ankle injury, one or two in the tense crowd may have been starting to think this was not going to be Driffield’s day.
However, the forward driving of the pack with once again Nellen, the Mewburns and Burns to the fore, thrust the Woldsmen into enemy territory and it was the ever industrious Robinson who stormed over to score.
Brigham added the conversion to level the score and so it stayed until half-time.
The first 20 minutes of the second half were a mirror image of the first, with Malton making all the running, pushing the hosts deep into their own 22.
With penalties conceded close to their own line, Driffield were forced to scrummage and a couple of times they held their opponents.When another penalty was awarded, one felt that a penalty try would be the next step.
However, a monumental effort up front forced the visitors to move the ball away from the scrum and with sound defence out wide, the imminent danger was avoided.The next score was going to be crucial and it came as Driffield managed to move play into the Malton half.Burns, who had been outstanding all game at eight, carried well and good support play brought the ball right up to the visitors line.
From a line out, play was driven forward and it was Dodds who dived over the ruck to ground the ball much to the delight of the home support.
Brigham slotted the conversion and when three minutes later Malton encroached offside, he put the home side two scores clear at 17v 7 with less than ten minutes to go.
Malton, of course, were not going to lie down and back they came, turning down a penalty at tempt at goal to go for the catch and drive which Driffield seemed to have negated.But, when the ball was moved right, the visitors stormed over for a converted try.
With three points the difference and six minutes of injury time, the tension was almost unbearable.
Much to the credit of the home side, they held out for a hard won victory that lifts them out of the relegation zone at the expense of Malton.
Both sides deserve much credit for a fully passionate, committed and skillful performance and it would be a great shame if either were to find themselves in Yorkshire One next year.
Paul Dervey and his men can be very proud of their achievements this week which stand them in good stead for what will be a tough remainder of the season.
North One East Results 14th January 2016 :-
Driffield RUFC 4th XV v Bridlington 3rd XV (H)