Driffield arrived at The Gannock to face local rivals Malton on a warm September afternoon, looking to improve on last week’s disappointing draw with Scarborough.

There were many changes from last week’s team, Rob Mewburn and James Watts were unavailable, so Adam Brankley made his first start in the forwards and Will Brigham returned at 10.  Ben Dinsdale made a welcome return at centre, meaning a re-shuffle in the back line, so Gary Stephenson moved to the wing and James Short dropped to the bench.  Dan Ramsden started for the unavailable Guy Brumfield at hooker.  Kyle Turner made his return on the bench together with former 1st XV captain Paul Dervey, made a surprise appearance.

From the kick-off Driffield started brightly and made good inroads into the Malton 22.  However, several bad decisions and indiscipline by Driffield allowed Malton to clear their lines and relieve the pressure.

On 6 minutes, Malton were putting a good number of phases together inside Driffield’s 22, when Ed Falkingham was given a yellow card for a failed interception attempt.  At this point, Mark Blenkinsop came off injured and Paul Dervey replaced him.

Down to 14-men, Driffield were making good inroads with strong runs from Matthew Jenkinson, Adam Brankley and Ben Johnson.  Will Brigham kicked the ball through for territory and judged his kick perfectly as it went out of play on Malton’s 5 metre line.  Malton took the lineout and threw to the back : but  their hooker overthrew the ball and Adam Brankley was at the back of the lineout to catch the ball and dive over the try line for the first score of the game. Ben Dinsdale added the extras to make the score Malton 0 – Driffield 7.

Following numerous reset scrums, Driffield were awarded a penalty in the centre of the field and after good phase play with backs and forwards combining well, Ryan Murray went over for a try in the corner. The conversion was missed but gave Driffield a 12-point lead leaving the score Malton 0 – Driffield 12.

Shortly after the half-hour mark, Driffield lost two more men to injury : Ed Falkingham and Owen Scurry were replaced by Kyle Turner and James Short respectively. This left the Driffield bench depleted with no further substitutions possible and still 40 minutes of rugby to play.

The end of the first half ended in a couple of opportunities for Driffield to add 3 points to their tally but, on both occasions, the kicks were missed and left the score at the break Malton 0 – Driffield 12.

Five minutes into the second half, Malton’s number 6 was sent to the sin bin for a high tackle, Driffield put a good kick into the corner for a lineout and, having gone through 8 phases of play, Malton’s outside centre latched onto a telegraph ed miss-pass in the Driffield backs to run in from the halfway line unopposed. Malton added the 2 points to bring the score back to Malton 7 – Driffield 12.

Malton’s first score came as a wake-up call to Driffield and seemed to kick start them back into life. From re-collecting the kick-off, Driffield then make a break in midfield through Will Brigham, he passed the ball onto Ben Dinsdale who rounded the fullback to score in the corner. Ryan Murray added the touchline conversion to extend Driffield lead with the score at Malton 7 – Driffield 19.

Straight from the kick-off, Gary Stephenson made a break down his wing, finding Joe Robinson in support who fed Jack Sowersby who ran in under the posts.  Ryan Murray again converted and made the score Malton 7 – Driffield 26.

Malton hit back with a try from their fullback five minutes later, who crossed in the corner from a Malton scrum on the Driffield 22 – luckily for Driffield the conversion was short. With 20 minutes to play the score was Malton 12 – Driffield 26.

On 65 minutes, Driffield lost good territory and possession by giving away numerous silly penalties. Malton’s fly-half kicked deep into Driffield’s 22 where Malton secured the lineout and went through six phases before they found a gap in Driffield’s defence and went over the try line under the posts. The conversion was successful, and the scores were Malton 19 – Driffield 26.

As the Driffield players tired, the penalty count increased, and almost a mirror image of the previous Malton try, Driffield gave away good field position to Malton, who again found good ground in the Driffield 22.  Malton regained possession and their inside centre sliced through the tiring Driffield defence to score their fourth try of the game.  The conversion went between the posts and with 2 minutes remaining the score was Malton 26 – Driffield 26.

With time for one final play the game at this stage could have gone either way.  Driffield put pressure on Malton at the restart and the referee awarded Driffield a penalty in a central position 30 metres out. Driffield opted to go for the 3 points to try and win the game with Ryan Murray stepping up to take the kick. Unfortunately, the kick missed to the left of the posts to Malton’s relief, swiftly followed by the full-time whistle from the referee. Final score Malton 26 – Driffield 26.

Driffield will be disappointed to have let a 19-point lead slip.  Not being able to bring on any fresh legs in the second half was a major advantage to Malton with lots of Driffield’s players playing their first game for 18 months.

However, the performance was much improved on last week’s draw with Scarborough.  Dan Ramsden had a good game with some physical tackles, Paul Dervey played 75 minutes and never took a backwards step.  Adam Brankley brings much needed aggression to the forwards with Jack Sowersby and Matthew Jenkinson working tirelessly in the back row.  In the backs, it was good to see Will Brigham back on the pitch, Ben Johnson had a good game with some strong runs. Ben Dinsdale always looks dangerous on the ball and Ryan Murray had a good game at full back.

Hopefully the injuries sustained in this game are not too serious, and with more 1st XV players available for next week’s game, selection will be tough for the coaches.

Next week, Driffield return to Kelleythorpe where they welcome Durham City.  Although Driffield are still searching for their first win of the season, picking up a try bonus point in their first two games will hopefully be advantageous when it comes to the end of the league campaign.