Derby Day delight

Weather concerns early in the week had prompted a massive effort at Kelleythorpe to cover the pitch to ensure that this local derby took place and 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 of these sides have been playing some great rugby all season and on occasion not getting the rub of the green, but this is a particularly tough league and it seems that though both Guisborough and Wheatley Hills have been cast adrift at the bottom of the league. Te third relegation place will be taken by one of 7 good sides and 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 appear in the home defence and Malton exploited this to open their account with a well-taken score close to the sticks which was improved to make the score 7-0 to the visitors 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 upper 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 employing all their guile and experience to combat that ever present threat.

One of the main features of the game, probably in the end 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 the Malton half. To Malton’s credit their defence held and they always posed a threat on the counter. The home side’s line-outs were working well providing good ball for Gray 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 resilience showed; they did concede a penalty that Brigham just pushed 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 Driff’s day. However the forward driving of the pack with once again Nellen, Mewburns and Burns to the fore thrust the Woldsmen into the Malton half and it was the ever-industrious Robinson who stormed over to score, Brigham adding the conversion to level the score and so it stayed until half time.

The first twenty minutes of the second half were a mirror image of the first with Malton making all the running, pushing the Woldsmen back deep into their own twenty-two, with penalties conceded close to their own line Driffield were forced to scrummage. A couple of times they held their opponents and 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 visitor’s line. From a line-out the ball 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 off-side he put the home side two scores clear with less than ten minutes to go.

Malton of course were not going to lay down. Back they came turning down a penalty attempt at goal to go for the catch and drive which Driffield seemed to have negated when the ball was moved right and the visitors stormed over for a converted try.

With three points the difference the six minutes of injury time the tension was almost unbearable, but much to the credit of the home side they held out for a hard-won victory that lifts them out of the relegation zone and unfortunately puts Malton in it.

Both these sides deserve much credit for a fully passionate, committed and skilful 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 really good stead for what will be a tough remainder of the season