Saturday saw this season’s third instalment of the local derby between Driffield and Malton. After a fortnight without a game, both sides would have been keen to keep winning and build momentum into the final stages of the season. A very soggy pitch greeted the sides, along with an intermittent drizzle, but the handling was a credit to the quality of both sides.

Playing up the slope, Driffield were quickly on the defensive conceding a penalty which Malton pushed wide. They made no mistake with the second one soon afterwards to take a 3-0 lead. Malton were using the slope well and kicking behind Driffield, forcing them to turn in the heavy conditions and concede territory. Malton pressure was forcing Driffield to give away penalties and earn a warning from the referee. On the first occasion Driffield looked threatening, working Robinson into space down the blind side, they were brought back for no apparent reason.

An altercation on the floor gave Driffield a penalty and with it the chance to get a foothold in the Malton half. After winning the line out, Driffield worked a couple of phases before bringing Dinsdale in from the blindside wing. He made a half-break but was hauled down. The forwards carried hard before quick hands from Piercy put Dinsdale into the corner for an unconverted try.  Malton 3 – Driffield 5

Malton struck straight back after seizing possession. Slick handling worked the ball to the powerful winger and he showed good pace to outstrip the defence and cross under the posts to regain the lead.  Malton 10 – Driffield 5

Driffield would have been reasonably happy only five points down and playing up the slope.  But they snatched a try on the half-time whistle to go in all square at ten points apiece when captain Mewburn cut down the opposition with brother George, making a welcome return to action, on hand to earn a penalty. Furbank found a good touch and the Driffield pack started to power towards the line. The maul was dragged down illegally and a yellow card brandished. Driffield opted to kick to touch and set another maul. This was again brought down illegally, but Rob Mewburn sneaked in at the corner to level things up.  Malton 10 – Driffield 10

The second half started in much the same way as the first, with Malton earning a penalty shot at goal. Driffield may have been slight aggrieved with this as Piercy was lying prone on the ground after competing for a high ball. The kick was short and touched down for a 22 metre restart. Driffield kicked this out on the full gifting Malton good field position for a scrum. Rob Mewburn snuffed out any danger with another scything tackle, but Furbank injured his shoulder and had to be replaced. This had the potential to disrupt the Woldsmen, with no recognised fly-half on the bench, but credit to Stephenson who stepped in seamlessly. Malton earned another penalty but again pushed it wide.

It felt like Driffield had weathered the storm and could exert some pressure if they could get their hands on the ball and use the slope. Scrum-half Gray made a clean break, sniping around the side of a line-out. He made 20 yards before chipping through to find Douglas looming up in support, showing great determination to recover the ball on the floor. Driffield moved the ball back into the centre and won a penalty, which Dinsdale converted to nudge the visitors into the lead.  Malton 10 – Driffield 13

Driffield kept pushing and searching for a chance to kill the game off. A penalty to touch gave them field position but, before they could set a maul, Malton took them to ground. The forwards kept driving before Gray probed the blind side and a miss-pass put Lawrence in for a try that importantly stretched the lead beyond a score. Dinsdale failed to add the conversion, but the final score remained 10-18.

This was a proper derby game, very physical and incredibly committed. Both sides deserve credit for the skill they showed, endeavouring to keep the ball alive even with the conditions. An important four points for the Woldsmen in their challenge at the top of the table that continues next weekend with a rearranged game at home against Huddersfield YMCA.