Following the Christmas Break, the Woldsmen travelled to Blue Hill Lane, Leeds, the home of West Leeds RUFC, to open the second half of their North One East season.
In the home fixture, back in September, West had taken the honours in a closely-fought affair, with a last gasp penalty. They have a durable pack, and a potential match-winner in Breakwell at fly-half. For this game, there were numerous changes to allow for injury. There was no Gray, so the very able Robinson came into the no 9 berth. Dench was welcomed back into the back division, with Brumfield and Watts also returning. Coach Cooper was bravely fighting off a bout of flu to be at the game.
Driffield had the early ascendency, but after only 5 minutes were reminded of how dangerous Leeds can be. From a scrum, crabbing sideways, their no 8 picked up and fed his backs. The ball went wide, and their winger squeezed over in the left hand corner. Breakwell converted from the touch line. WEST LEEDS 7 – 0 DRIFFIELD
Driffield immediately responded and, when they moved the ball out to Dinsdale, he showed he had the legs on his opposite number, but was just forced into touch by a covering tackler. On 15 minutes West went further ahead when Breakwell calmly slotted a penalty from just inside the Driffield half. This was against the run of play, but demonstrated Driffield would be punished for any inaccuracy. WEST LEEDS 10 – 0 DRIFFIELD
Driffield were shading possession, with Burns to the fore at No 8, keeping them in the opposition half. The ball went wide to Piercy, and he looked like he had scored in the corner but the referee correctly spotted the forward pass. Zavatti went close with a drive for the line but was just held up. In the same attack, Driffield were awarded a penalty under the posts. The coaches screamed for the points to be kicked, but Mewburn showed his growing confidence as captain, and opted for the scrum. As the scrum wheeled, his cunning plan paid off, and Burns picked up and took 3 defenders with him as he barged over for the try. Watts converted. WEST LEEDS 10 – 7 DRIFFIELD
The Driffield pack was working hard, and both Cooper and Blenkinsop were carrying the ball with effect. A short while later Driffield were awarded a penalty, which looked kickable, but Watts went narrowly wide with the attempt. Driffield pressure continued. They kicked to touch with a penalty but on the lineout there was a mix-up on the throw and the chance was lost. On 30 minutes West’s kicked another penalty. WEST LEEDS 13 – 7 DRIFFIELD
Very much against the run of the play, but West’s will not lie down as the previous fixture had shown. Driffield responded and Dench made a strong break but as he went to ground on the West’s 22; backup was late arriving and he was penalised for holding on to the ball. Close to half time; Driffield were closing in on the try line. A West’s prop was sent to the bin for a ruck infringement. From the penalty, once again, Mewburn backed his scrum. As it wheeled Robinson picked up and romped over. The conversion was missed. Half-Time WEST LEEDS 13 – 12 DRIFFIELD
The worry for Cooper at half time was that his team had had the lion share of possession but as yet they had little to show for it. Missed kicks were a concern.
For the restart, Ramsden replaced Mewburn, with the old war horses, Borman and Waterhouse, getting their chance. Douglas was straight into the second half with a bullocking run. From the ruck, Furbank put in a long touch-finder making 50 metres. On 47 minutes Driffield won a ball on the far right. The ball was moved to Dench who handed onto Stephenson. He straightened the line superbly and put Watts through the gap. He showed his pace and outstripped West’s defence for a good try. He also added the conversion. WEST LEEDS 13 – 19 DRIFFIELD
Within minutes Driffield were back. Leeds made a poor clearance kick. It was picked up in mid-field and Watts, now full of enterprise, went on a jinking run, and with a deft inside ball, put Cullen through the gap. He stormed for the line and went over for the try with 2 defenders hanging on. Again converted by Watts. WEST LEEDS 13 – 26 DRIFFIELD
The back row trio of Burns, Cullen and Ramsden now had the ascendancy and, with a following wind, Driffield at last had some points on the board for their efforts. West came back and would not lie down. They produced some dangerous running but Stephenson and Dench marshalled a tight defence. West’s were then penalised for slowing the ball down at a ruck and Furbank added the conversion. WEST LEEDS 13 – DRIFFIELD 29
West’s came back and from a scrum they moved the ball right right. Their winger, Calderwood, looked to be in but Dinsdale took him into touch in a last ditch tackle. Driffield’s defence was exceptional during this phase. Cullen, Burns and Brumfield were everywhere, with Ramsden proving he can operate at this level. Once again Calderwood went for the corner but this time a joint effort by Robinson and Dinsdale thwarted him. Time and again West’s were stopped. They were desperate for a bonus point and were running the ball from anywhere. On 70 minutes their efforts paid off with a try under the posts which was converted. WEST LEEDS 20 – 29 DRIFFIELD
It was literally end to end Rugby, but with Driffield defence and a couple of superb tackles by Dench and Stephenson, they simply snuffed West out.
Final Score WEST LEEDS 20 – 29 DRIFFIELD
A really good away result for Driffield. West’s were always going to be tough opposition but Driffield showed great team work. With all the changes, It was a credit to the squad that they can adapt so well. Cullen and Watts once again showed their potential. Cooper went back to the sick bay with a smile on his face.The visit to Cleckheaton next week will be another stiff test, but Driffield know they have the squad to match the challenge.