The Woldsmen’s loyal band of supporters travelled over to Wagon Lane on an unseasonably sunny and warm Saturday to watch this important mid-table contest between sides sitting 5th and 6th in the league. Neither side have realistic hopes of promotion, but there was the opportunity to distance themselves further from the relegation zone and, perhaps more importantly, there are always bragging rights.
Driffield’s team was much changed, as has been the pattern this season. Leaving aside ongoing injury woes, several players were unavailable due to weddings and stag dos. Such is the strength of the Driffield player pool that able replacements Kelly and Nettleton were drafted in to bolster the team.
The pitch was in excellent condition and, although the wind was noticeable, it was much less a factor in the game as both sides chose to play a running game. The opening encounters were all Driffield, running strongly at the Bees’ defence, and Brankley made his mark early with strong running up the middle. So, it was against play when a Bees counter-attack reached the Driffield 10m line. In the resulting tackle, Driffield were penalised for holding on. The Bees No. 9 stepped up and ably converted from 35m. Bradford & Bingley 3-0 Driffield
At the restart, Driffield did not allow sufficiently for the wind, and the kick went straight to touch, handing Bees a scrum on the halfway that they took cleanly. A series of drives took them nearly to the Driffield line, but strong defence held the line.
On 13 minutes, the strong Bees pack overpowered a Driffield scrum, losing the ball. The Bees’ No. 9 picked up and burst through the defence, romping 20 yards to score under the sticks, for a converted try. Bradford & Bingley 10-0 Driffield
Driffield’s restart was judged more carefully than the previous attempt, allowing them to win the ball back and mount an attack down the right side of the pitch, taking them to the 5m line. Gray then made one of his darting attacks gaining further ground before handing off to Ben Dinsdale, who burst through the defenders and ran round to score under the posts, converted by Watts. Bradford & Bingley 10-7 Driffield
From the restart, Bees took the play back to Driffield, who dropped off tackles allowing the No. 12 to keep going and run a full 40m to score. The wind affected the kick sufficiently to take it just wide. Bradford & Bingley 15-7 Driffield.
Another good restart kick by Driffield was left to bounce by Bees, perhaps hoping that the wind would take it straight to touch. It landed just infield, giving Bees the throw-in on their 22. This should have been good field position for Driffield, but the Bees 11 ran strongly, evading tackles and made 70m before being stopped.
Driffield won the ball back and ran it strongly back into Bees territory before losing the ball. In the counter-attack, tackles were again missed, and the forwards were losing the tight game. The arrival of Zavatti seemed to stem the latter problem, but missed tackles were Driffield’s Achilles Heel for the afternoon.
On 30 minutes, strong attacking work by Driffield’s backs took them to the opposition 22. The ball was spun right from a ruck, finding James Dinsdale who burst through the defence to score just to the right of the posts, again converted by Watts. Bradford & Bingley 15-14 Driffield.
From the restart, it was Bees’ turn to misjudge the kick, giving Driffield space to attack and win a penalty advantage. Seeing the defence up flat Gray put an intelligent grubbing kick through. The oval ball bobbled unkindly for the defender and Ben Dinsdale was able to gather it and keep going for the try. Watts missed the conversion attempt, making it Bradford & Bingley 15-19 Driffield.
Bees mounted sustained pressure on the Driffield line in the 5 minutes before half time, producing a lineout on the Driffield 5m. A well-taken catch and drive saw them go over for the try, too far out for a successful conversion, making the half time score Bradford & Bingley 20-19 Driffield.
For the first few minutes of the second half, the play ebbed and flowed between the two sides until Bees uncharacteristically kicked for territory rather than keeping ball in hand, sending it through to the Driffield 22. Robinson collected it well and returned the effort all the way back to Bees’ 22.
Driffield defended well against strong attacking by Bees, and drove them back into their own territory. Their defence was under pressure and they were penalised for holding on. Watts just missed the 40m penalty attempt.
Bees came back at Driffield, and a mid-field penalty took them to a lineout on the Driffield 5m. The catch and drive was well defended and Bees rumbled right and left, eschewing a 3-man overlap that would have given a certain try to the backs. The pressure eventually brought a forwards try close to the posts for the bonus point try, ably converted. Bradford & Bingley 27-19 Driffield
Driffield came back at Bees, mounting sustained pressure in the Bees’ 22 until an intelligent kick to the corner by Watts on 60 minutes. The defender collected the ball an instant before he was tackled by Ben Dinsdale, who stripped the ball and went over for a hat-trick and Driffield’s bonus point try, too far out for the conversion attempt. Bradford & Bingley 27-24 Driffield.
Play was evenly matched for almost ten minutes, oscillating from one 22 to the other, until a knock-on by Driffield allowed the Bees’ No.9 to collect it. He ran 40m evading tackles, before slipping the ball to the supporting winger who, despite Gray’s desperate tackle, managed to reach out to score the try, which was unconverted. Bradford & Bingley 32-24 Driffield
With a little over 5 minutes left, Driffield were able to win the ball back from the restart, and moved the ball along the backs from right to left. Robinson made a strong break down the left side before handing off to Stephenson in support, who galloped the remaining 10m for the try. Watts’ attempt from 7m in went narrowly wide, making it Bradford & Bingley 32-29 Driffield.
Driffield now had a losing bonus point if they could hold out for the last few minutes, or the chance for last-minute victory if they could score. This looked possible when they attacked down the left side from the restart, but a knock-on gave possession back to Bees. Knowing that the final whistle was imminent, they kept the ball in hand, running the clock down, until they could kick it into touch to end the game with Bees just edging it.
The result sees both sides maintain their league positions, but wins by sides below Driffield mean that they lead a pack of five teams covered by just three points. Spectators from both sides commented on how the game was a great advert for rugby. Both clubs can be justifiably proud of the efforts of their teams, playing attractive running rugby in great conditions and excellent sportsmanship.