Saturday’s trip to Bradford & Bingley was effectively a knock-out game for the Woldsmen. Win and, at worst, they would secure the play-off spot. But lose and their fate would be in others’ hands.
A baking hot day saw a significant number of supporters make the trip west for a game where the conditions should have suited the visitors. Bradford had brought a sizeable pack for the fixture at Driffield way back at the start of September, and Driffield would hope to run the ball and tire the opposition out. With Burns unavailable, Dinsdale took the number 8 shirt, with Borman partnering Cooper in the second row. The back line remained the same as for the Penrith game, with the returning Dench taking a spot on the bench.
Bradford kicked off, and Driffield gifted them possession with an error. The forwards responded and shoved the Bees backwards to win a penalty. From the line-out, Furbank moved the ball wide to Lawrence who stretched the defence on the outside. Driffield recycled the ball to Dinsdale and his pace and trickery saw him cross under the posts for a try he converted. Bradford & Bingley 0 – 7 Driffield
Driffield almost repeated the trick from the kickoff, running the ball from their own line. Lawrence was again involved, crashing through tackles before offloading to the ever-present captain. He moved the ball on again to Watts who strode down the touchline before being tackled. Driffield recycled and Furbank chipped through forcing a knock-on. Bradford defended the scrum well and cleared their lines.
Bradford had weathered the early storm, and started to get their hands on the ball, making ground in contact. They made their way to the Driffield ten metre line, and caught the visiting defence napping, picking the ball out of a ruck and galloping to the try line for a converted try. Bradford & Bingley 7 – 7 Driffield
Driffield tried a short kick-off, but just knocked the ball on in contact. From the scrum, the Bees found touch just inside the Driffield half. The throw went long and just evaded Driffield hands, bouncing into the path of the Bradford centre, and despite the best efforts of the visiting defence, his momentum carried him over the line for another converted try. Bradford & Bingley 14 – 7 Driffield
This was a test of Driffield’s character, and captain Mewburn led by example, winning a penalty which Dinsdale just pushed wide. Some of the Woldsmen’s play looked nervy, with some uncharacteristic errors turning possession over. Dinsdale and Lawrence looked dangerous when they had their hands on the ball, and it took an exceptional tackle by the full back to stop Lawrence in his tracks. Driffield strung together a passage of play, defended well by the Bees, but eventually they ran out of numbers and it was Gray who touched down under the posts, for Dinsdale to convert. Bradford & Bingley 14 – 14 Driffield
The game was a little disjointed, with plenty of penalties from both sides. Driffield had kept probing, but were being repelled by solid defence. Cooper went to the sin bin for a deliberate knock-on and the last ten minutes of the first half felt like they would be crucial in determining the outcome of the game. Bradford sought to make their numerical advantage tell and carried hard into the visiting defence. Again they went straight through the ruck, but this time were caught by scrambling Driffield defence. It was the visitors who struck, with a try from half-way. Mewburn was the instigator again, offloading to Blenkinsop who showed good hands to find Lawrence. He broke a couple of tackles before slipping the ball to Furbank who touched down under the posts. Bradford & Bingley 14 – 21 Driffield
Driffield had weathered the storm and went into half time ahead. Back up to a full complement they sought to claim the bonus point. A line-out move saw Brumfield knocked into touch just short of the try line. Bradford conceded a free kick from the line-out, putting themselves under pressure. Zavatti went quickly and made it over the line, but the ball came free allowing Gray to pounce on the ball and claim his second try. Bradford & Bingley 14 – 26 Driffield
Undeterred, Bradford came back hard at Driffield. They were attacking constantly, but Driffield’s defence held firm in the energy-sapping conditions. Furbank cleared his lines well, finding significant distance with his boot. Zavatti drew a penalty with another good charge which gave Driffield territory. A kick to the corner followed and Brumfield found his man. The drive seemed to be heading towards the try line, but Driffield were awarded a penalty. A quick tap eventually found its way to Furbank who attacked the try line, before slipping the ball towards Stephenson. The pass was knocked up by a Bradford hand, and fell into Dinsdale’s hands who dotted the ball down, before converting his own try. Bradford & Bingley 14 – 33 Driffield
Despite the best efforts of the home side, that was the last score of the afternoon as the conditions took their toll and the game petered out. The final score was a fantastic way to round off a successful league campaign for Driffield. A home play-off awaits against new opposition from either Northwich or Wilmslow.