Driffield go down fighting to West Hartlepool, the early league leaders
Driffield travelled at the weekend to take on West Hartlepool. This is traditionally one of the most difficult away fixtures for the squad, who have never won at the Brinkburn ground . Over the last 2 seasons however Driffield have won the return fixture. To date’ West’ had won both their opening fixtures, with Driffield having won one and lost one. Team changes showed Turner on the bench for the unavailable Henry Lee. Short came onto the bench for the injured Robinson and Waterhouse moved to the bench to enable Nellen to return.
From the kick off Driffield forwards set up a series of drives at the Wests defence. This resulted in a scrum to Hartlepool who drove the Driffield pack backwards, but scrum half Gray managed to get the ball away . This was followed by another scrum for Driffield. No 8 Burns picked up but was penalised for failing to release the ball on the ground. From an early lineout to West Hartlepool, they demonstrated their trademark catch and drive and were able to move Driffield into the midfield. Driffield countered this well.
Another scrum on the Driffield 10 metre line saw Driffield move the ball quickly. A breakdown saw the Referee penalise Hartlepool. Brigham stepped up and put in a good relieving kick. Cooper and Nellen drove the ball Towards the Hartlepool 22 meters, Burns continued the drive and under pressure Hartlepool gave away a penalty in front of their posts, which was converted by Brigham, to give Driffield the early lead. In spite of early pressure from the Hartlepool scrum, Driffield managed a good surge at a scrum, to show that they are capable of responding.
Driffield from an attacking position were penalised for going off their feet at a ruck. The Hartlepool clearing penalty didn’t make touch and was snapped up by Ben Dinsdale who made a 20 metre run into Hartlepool’s defence. On 16 minutes , following a Driffield scum close to the halfway line Gray was fed the ball and made a great run,a hint of dummy and outpaced the defence to score a try. Brigham failed with the conversion from wide out. Driffield 8 Hartlepool 0.
Following the restart Hartlepool piled on pressure and were award a penalty on the Driffield 10 metre line, but the penalty kick fell wide. From the drop out as soon as Driffield regained possession they tried to move the play wide. The back row of Burns and George and Rob Mewburn were working well, and linking effectively with Gray, who was having another good game. Hartlepool put pressure on the Driffield defence but fullback Blacker counted well. Brigham demonstrated his confidence with some good line kicking. Hartlepool showed glimpses of their potential when their centre Youll made dangerous break. The referee spotted a high tackle by a Driffield defender. From the ensuing penalty Hartlepool kicked for the corner. From Hartlepool’s catch and drive Driffield defended well, with Brumfield to the fore with a great tackle.
A poor clearance by Driffield allowed Hartlepool to put the pressure back on. From a resulting line out to Driffield they attempted a long throw to the back, which resulted in an over throw and subsequent knock on. This happened again as Driffield had an attacking line on the Hartlepool 22, and simply gave the advantage back to the opposition. A long range penalty to Driffield on the Hartlepool 10 metres saw Brigham kick the points. Driffield 11 Hartlepool 0.
Waterhouse then came on to prop with captain Dervey making way. Shortly afterwards some impressive interplay started by the Mewburn brothers and carried on by Stephenson led to a try wide out by winger Dinsdale. Hartlepool immediately responded just before half time with a catch and drive 5 metres from the Driffield line and scored wide out. Followed by excellent conversion. Half Time Driffield 16 Hartlepool 7.
Early in the second half it was obvious Hartlepool had regrouped and started to exert their own pressure. Turner who had replaced Cooper made a great tackle on the opposition No8. The ball went loose to winger Furbank who beat the opposition over 80 metres to grab a great try at the opposite end of the field. Conversion missed Driffield 21 Hartlepool 7.
Some good driving play by the Drifield forwards led to a penalty in front of the Hartlepool posts which Brigham kicked . Driffield continued to be put under pressure in the scrums but Gray managed to tidy up with his back row. Close to Driffield’s line a Hartlepool catch and drive was repulsed with Borman and Nellen leading.
After 55 minutes Skipper Dervey replaced Nellen at prop. Within 5 minutes Harlepool scored again from their formidable lineout drive Driffield 24 Hartlepool 12.
Short came on for Dinsdale and was soon involved in a Driffield counter-attack. Some good work by Gray combining with the Mewburn brothers lead to a penalty kick to Driffield , which was converted to make the score 27- 12 to Driffield. Burns took the restart and made some good ground. Piercy and Stephenson moved the ball quickly. Hartlepool were slowly but surely taking control. Some good defence by Rob Mewburn and the two Driffield centres could not keep Hartlepool from scoring a try under the posts Driffield 27 Hartlepool 19 after 70 minutes.
Driffield immediately responded with some aggressive driving into the opposition half and Gray went over for a well earned try. Brigham failed with the conversion making the score 32 – 19 to Driffield.
With 10 minutes remaining Hartlepool turned forward pressure in to another try which was converted, making it 32 – 26 .
Hartlepool played to their strengths and a catch and drive lead to a line out 5 metres out. Driffield were now under intense pressure. Matters were made worse when Cooper was penalised and yellow-carded. A scrum close in under the post was initially held by Driffield depleted scrum but good secondary drives lead to them scoring their final try. Driffield 32 Hartlepool 33.
Driffield responded but it was too late. They had a late penalty award, spurned the kick for goal, and the whistle went. Final Score Driffield 32 Hartlepool 33
Certainly Hartlepool are a very effective unit which revolves almost totally around their formidable pack and lineout, but Driffield should have won this match. Skipper Dervey identified a lot of positives from the game, but felt his team had gone into a defensive shell instead of continuing with their expansive game They must learn to close these games down . Driffield took 2 losing bonus points from the game, but this should have been 5