A decent overnight frost thawed in good time so that the game was not in doubt, and the Driffield XV took the short drive over to Feathers Field for this local derby. The sides are the oldest and keenest of rivals, and have played each other many times.
The last time they played, in the curtailed 2019-20 season, saw the results shared : Pocklington won at home 27 – 25, and Driffield took the honours at Kelleythorpe 22 – 20. But, in games like these, form often goes out of the window.
The squad had some changes from the previous week apart from front row rotations, most notably Brant coming into the side allowing Brankley to move to inside centre, giving the backs a different approach.
Pocklington, playing in their green change strip, were first into action, working the ball downfield through a series of penalties. They then kicked for touch, and went for the catch and drive from lineout. Driffield halted the drive, but the ball was worked blind and Pocklington went over for the try on seven minutes, converted to give them an early lead. Pocklington 7 – 0 Driffield
From the restart, Driffield put their opponents under pressure in their own half, resulting in a penalty on the ten-metre line. Watts lined it up and converted well to get Driffield’s scoring going and reduce the gap. Pocklington 7 – 3 Driffield
Driffield returned to the attack and camped in Pocklington’s half for almost ten minutes, but were unable to break through the strong defence. Finally, a loose pass five metres out was snatched by Pocklington and they raced up to the half way before being stopped.
Driffield returned to the attack, eventually gaining a lineout within reach of the try line. This time, Driffield went for the catch and drive and were stopped just short when a defender was penalised.
Sensing blood, Driffield opted for the scrum rather than the kick, locked the scrum out, and released the ball to the backs where it found the rampaging Brankley. He burst through the defence to score under the sticks, easily converted to put Driffield into the lead for the first time after 25 minutes of play. Pocklington 7 – 10 Driffield
For the next ten minutes, Driffield applied continued pressure, and worked the ball to the left side of the field. Blacker, standing wide out took the final pass and found his way past the covering defence to score in the corner, but the conversion was missed. Pocklington 7 – 15 Driffield
Pocklington responded well, and took the attack into Driffield’s 22 through a series of attacks before they lost possession through a knock-on. Play moved back and forth between the halves, until Driffield gave away a penalty that was ably converted to bring the gap back down to five. Pocklington 10 – 15 Driffield
In the final minutes of the half, Driffield turned up the pressure and once again found Brankley in the centres. Once again, he burst through the middle, leaving defenders in his wake. He was held up just inside the 22, but popped the ball to the supporting Short who went in at the corner to make it Pocklington 10 – 20 Driffield at half-time.
With grey skies and rain threatening, the second half started in dim light, and Driffield returned to Pocklington’s half. The hosts were penalised for crossing in defence, giving Watts an easy shot at goal which was converted after just four minutes of the half. Pocklington 10 – 23 Driffield
Pocklington laboured for a quarter of an hour to try and get over the whitewash, but attack after attack was repelled by solid Driffield defence and it all came to nought. Finally, they were awarded a penalty that was kicked to touch, to be followed by the inevitable catch and drive. The attack was repelled and Pocklington were driven back to the ten-metre line.
At this point, Driffield brought on their two front row replacements to give some new energy to the team. This brought rewards when, in the middle of the half, Brankley once again wrought havoc in the centre and made good ground. The final pass was made and a try looked a certainty, but the referee judged it to have been just forward, and play was brought back.
Pocklington secured the ball at the scrum and applied concerted pressure for almost five minutes, but the effort was wasted. At this point, home supporters started to talk, not of winning the game, but rescuing a losing bonus point. This was a fair assessment of the second half where Driffield’s defence was a solid as it could be, and it was surprising that they had not managed to widen the score gap.
Ramsden nearly achieved this with ten minutes to go, when another of his barnstorming runs took him just into the Pocklington 22 where he was stopped. The defence rescued the ball and hacked through into lots of space, which was collected by Driffield but resulted in a penalty for holding on. Pocklington went for the points rather than going for the full seven, but the kick drifted wide.
With five minutes to go, rain starting to fall, and darkness descending on an increasingly sticky pitch, Driffield battled back into the opposition 22 where they were awarded a penalty 15 yards out. Hoping for a fourth try that would give them the bonus point they went for the tap and go but could not find their way through the defence. The final whistle went with Driffield worthy winners, Pocklington 10 – 23 Driffield.
Driffield remain top of the league, although Old Brodleians closed on them by one point following their romp to a comfortable victory at Bees.