The first game of the new decade saw Durham visit Kelleythorpe for the start of a difficult run of games for the home side. Driffield had won the reverse fixture comfortably early in the season, but the game was far closer than the score-line had suggested and Driffield knew they would have to be on top form to take the points.
A good crowd was there to support the first game of the decade, and the kind weather meant that most of them were able to withstand 80 minutes on the side-line and lend vocal support to encourage Driffield to provide the win that would maintain their top of the league status.
The first game back after the Christmas break is always a challenge, because of the inevitable consequences of Christmas turkey and pudding, and perhaps the odd glass or two, which tend to have consequences. But Driffield played on 20 December, so had a more recent game than Durham City, so hopes might have been higher as the opposition should have been less match-ready. The evidence seemed to be different though, as Durham looked the more in-form side on the day.
A dry afternoon with a hint of sunshine meant conditions that should have suited Driffield’s style of play and the home side made a fast start with Ben Dinsdale opening the scoring within two minutes. Straight from the kick off, Driffield went back on the attack, keeping hold of the ball and probing the Durham defence. Unfortunately, this was as good as it got for the home side, with Durham going on to dominate the remainder of the first half.
Durham levelled the scores with an excellent try from short range. Solid set-piece possession had provided the platform and a clever off-load from the Durham number eight found support and left the Driffield defence unable to respond. The conversion edged the visitors into the lead 7-5.
Durham were straight back on the attack and looked to have extended their lead with their fly-half attacking the Driffield line and finding support. But, with the ball being spilled over the line, play was brought back for a penalty which Durham converted to take the lead to 5 points.
When Driffield did try and attack they were met with stout resistance, but also suffered from a lack of accuracy with ball retention leaving the half time score 5-10.
With a strong breeze behind them, Driffield would have had hopes of overturning the score-line, but it was Durham who struck first with a scything angle from Durham’s blindside splintering Driffield’s defence. Crucially the conversion was missed.
The home side rallied with the back row of Brankley, Turner and Jenkinson carrying hard and the evergreen Borman making his presence felt around the ruck area. Watts was able to convert a penalty chance from distance and narrow the gap to a score.
With time running out, Driffield mounted an attack from deep with Cullen splintering the Durham defence before being well tackled by the full back. Driffield recycled patiently with Maling being on hand to claim the try. Watts showed great skill to convert under pressure and level the score at 15 each.
With York winning comfortably away at Morley, the result means that Driffield drop to 2nd in the league, three points clear of Cleckheaton who also won at home against Percy Park. For Durham City, the draw means that they are now just one point clear of the drop zone.