Pacey visitors take spoils

Driffield’s visitors on Saturday share a lot of characteristics with the Woldsmen – both rural clubs with a core of home-grown players. Within five minutes of kick-off, it became apparent that the similarities didn’t end there. Alnwick had a light pack, who were quick across the ground and a fast-running set of backs, and were happy to play rugby from deep in their own half.

A breathless first five minutes saw both sides attack at pace. First Robinson, at scrum-half this week, tested the defence with a quick tap and made yards up the touch line. The ball was turned over, and Alnwick moved it wide to the opposite touch line where a chip through from the winger just went dead before he touched it down. Early warning signs for Driffield that the pace of the Alnwick backs could pose problems. However, it was Driffield who went ahead after a break from Nellen gained field position. Brankley, at centre rather than number eight, carried hard and won a penalty which Brigham converted.

From the kick off, Alnwick regained the ball and forced a knock-on. With the put-in at a midfield scrum, the visitors had an excellent platform to attack from. A short pass put the scrum-half outside the home side’s back row, and he showed real pace to accelerate through a gap and round the full-back to touch down under the posts.

Driffield continued to show promising signs. Burns won a lineout against the throw and Brigham moved the ball wide to McClarron, who hit a lovely angle. He was stopped dead in his tracks by a strong challenge from the full-back, who knocked on in the process. Driffield attacked again with Grant through the middle. Good hands from Brumfield to Robinson put McClarron away again down the wing, but he was hauled down just short of the line. Good defence from Alnwick forced Driffield backwards, before Grant won a penalty which Brigham converted to make the score 6-7.

Both sides continued to press – Nellen and Brankley carrying hard into the opposition, and Alnwick threatening through their scrum-half. Just before half-time an inability to clear the line cost Driffield as Alnwick touched down in the corner to make it 6-12.

Driffield struck first blood in the second half when Mewburn won a penalty, which Brigham knocked over from 40 yards, before taking the lead with a try from half-way. Good hands from Dervey and Cooper set McClarron free and he showed his skill to draw the full-back and put Furbank in for a try. Brigham pushed the conversion wide, but that left the score 14-12.

Alnwick hit back almost immediately, with a lightening break through the centre. Brankley hauled him down in an excellent cover tackle, but the fly-half showed good awareness to put a cross-kick in for the winger, who made the score 14-17. Brigham could have levelled things up, when he made an electric break, ghosting through a gap and chipping ahead. A deflection led to a penalty for offside, but that drifted wide.

Unfortunately that was as close as it got for Driffield. Alnwick again capitalised on Driffield’s inability to clear their lines when they charged down a kick and neat interplay saw them over in the corner, this time converted. They extended their lead with a drop-goal, after stout home defence had pushed them backwards.

Driffield had the final say with a try in the corner for Stephenson. Pettinger made a break through midfield, twice throwing a dummy and galloping through a gap. Good continuity saw the ball find its way to Dinsdale. He was met with a heavy tackle, but his off-load found Stephenson to touch down. A touch-line conversion could have salvaged a bonus point for the Woldsmen, but it fell short, making the final score 19-27.

Driffield face the remainder of the league’s top three before Christmas, starting with a short trip to Pocklington on Saturday.