Driffield rounded off the year with another narrow victory against local rivals Bridlington on Saturday. Yet again home nerves were jangling deep into injury time as Bridlington pushed for a winning score but stoic defence kept them out and kept local bragging rights.
The Woldsmen made a couple of changes with Brumfield missing at hooker allowing Ramsden to take his place between Zavatti and Blenkinsop. George Mewburn was missing with injury but Burns ably filled his position. Furbank continued at fly-half with danger out wide through Lawrence and Dinsdale.
Driffield kicked off and immediately went on the attack. Bridlington took the ball into touch giving the home side a line-out, which they took and drove forcefully towards the line. They worked the ball blind but, not for the first time, were met with solid defence. Driffield kept attacking but couldn’t find a way through, and it was Bridlington who almost claimed the first points. They attacked blind from a scrum and a flat pass put the winger into space. He showed his pace and it was only a foot in touch that prevented him scoring.
Driffield lost the first of three players to injury when James Dinsdale left the field. Bridlington were coming more into the game and captain Mewburn saved a try with an outstanding cover tackle from a blind-side move. Bridlington did earn a penalty which they converted to take the lead. Driffield 0 – Bridlington 3.
The game was incredibly physical and at this point it was Bridlington who were winning the contact battle, enabling them to get over the gain-line and set the platform for their attack. They extended their lead with a well-worked try. A loose kick from Driffield was fielded by the visiting full back who identified where Driffield’s forwards were and moved the ball wide to attack through the speedy winger. He blasted through the last tackle to cross in the corner. This was converted from the touch line. Driffield 0 – Bridlington 10.
Bridlington were well worth the lead at this point, with Driffield struggling to get through their aggressive defence. They changed tack and started to move the ball around in order to get around the on-rushing defenders. Gray took a quick tap penalty, the ball was recycled and moved wide to Stephenson. He straightened up, sold a dummy and glided over. Dearing converted well from wide out. Both teams continued to press but the half time score remained Driffield 7 – Bridlington 10.
Driffield dropped the restart giving Bridlington field position. The home side’s scrum got them out of trouble, winning the penalty and giving them the chance to work back up the pitch. Both sides lost a man at this point: Bridlington, somewhat harshly, to the sin bin and Driffield to injury with Lawrence departing. With no backs left on the bench, Borman entered the fray and Ramsden moved to the wing. Driffield kicked to touch and drove towards the line again. Exhibiting good control they kept the ball tight, before giving the backs the chance to attack. A chip through led to what appeared to be a scrum for Driffield, before a change of decision gave Bridlington the chance to clear with a long 22 restart.
Driffield were controlling the ball well during this phase of the game, but were struggling to break the line. They looked dangerous when Furbank swept round to the blind side twice in quick succession, but both times the move broke down: once when the ball was knocked down, and once when Piercy just failed to offload. Driffield kept the pressure on and it paid dividends when Robinson touched down. Another penalty was kicked to touch and again Driffield attacked through the forwards, before Furbank changed the point of attack and found Robinson hitting a hard angle to cut through. Furbank added a difficult two points. Driffield 14 – Bridlington 10.
With 15 minutes still to go, momentum changed again. A strong carry from Bridlington’s centre earned a penalty in front of the posts, which crucially was pushed wide. Undeterred they kept attacking and it was only strong home defence that kept them out, holding them up over the line. A brief moment of respite saw the home side attack from deep with a quick tap finding Stephenson who ghosted through the defence before finding Dinsdale. He showed his pace and cantered over for a try, only to be brought back for a foot in touch.
Driffield kept inviting pressure on themselves. No sooner had they won the ball than they gave it straight back. With time almost up, a conceded penalty was kicked to the corner and visions of last-minute losses were again flashing through supporters’ minds. However, the defence was fantastic, repelling Bridlington attacks time after time. Another penalty brought another line-out to defend and it was Mewburn again who saved Driffield with a turnover. The drama wasn’t over as Robinson saw his clearance charged down but roll over the dead ball line to bring the final whistle.
Full credit to both sides. This was not a game for the faint-hearted. Up front Douglas and Cooper carried relentlessly, well backed up by Burns. Gray kept the visitors’ defence honest all game, sniping round the edges and tidying up any scrappy ball. Piercy and Stephenson looked dangerous with ball in hand and shut down bigger opponents in defence. Captain Mewburn was outstanding, chopping down anyone who ran at him and providing the link in attack. He can be rightly proud of his team as they head into the Christmas break a point behind leaders Morpeth.