Saturday, 1 April.
Driffield began the day in sixth place and were looking to continue their good form with a win over Durham, who occupied the last relegation spot. The return fixture had seen Durham emerge victorious by 25 points to 11, but fortunes have diverged since then with Driffield losing only 3 games and Durham collecting just 2 wins.
Driffield looked anything like the league’s form side from kick-off. A knock-on straight from the kick-off put the Woldsmen under pressure, which they compounded by conceding a penalty from the resulting scrum. This was confidently converted to give the visitors a 3-0 lead.
Driffield struck straight back with a slick back-line move creating space for Dinsdale to cross in the corner, too far out for Brigham to convert. This looked like it should set the pattern for the afternoon – moving the ball wide and using the pace out wide to cause the visitors problems. Unfortunately the game struggled for rhythm and a penalty apiece were the only further scores of the first half hour.
Driffield added a further try before half-time when George Mewburn barged his way over in the corner. Patient build-up had stretched the Durham defence and Robinson nearly made the line before he was brought down, and Mewburn hit a good angle to touch down. Driffield lost Brigham to what looked like a serious injury on the stroke of half time, which brought Furbank into fly-half.
Driffield made a much better start to the second half. First Pettinger made 20 yards with a barracking run. Driffield recycled the ball and found Furbank who sold a dummy and skipped under the posts before converting his own try.
Now able to play at pace, Driffield scored the best try of the afternoon. Furbank attacked the line at pace and found Brankley who burst clear of the defence. He was tackled by the full-back, but found Robinson with a great offload and he beat the covering defence with his speed. Furbank converted to make it 27-6.
At this point Driffield could have run away with it, but credit to Durham who kept harrying them and forcing errors. Dinsdale added his second from a Robinson break, this time too far out to be converted, before Durham scored their first try with a break from their powerful centre. Pettinger rounded off the afternoon breaking 3 or 4 tackles and touching down. Furbank added the extras to make the final score 39-13.
There were a number of outstanding performances on the day. Gray at scrum-half was a constant threat to the opposition, sniping around the fringes and tidying up any scrappy ball, and Burns dominated the line-out, winning countless opposition throws. Nellen made dents in the opposition defence whenever he carried, usually taking several men to bring him to ground.
A difficult trip to Alnwick awaits next weekend before rounding off the season at home to Morpeth.