Driffield returned once more to West Yorkshire to face an eleventh-placed Morley side. However, victories against the men from West Yorkshire have always been hard to come by and Driffield knew that league position would be no indicator of the game to come. At the reverse fixture, back in early December, the scores were tied at 30-all with a minute to go, and a penalty kick in the dying seconds clinched the game for Driffield.
Driffield’s side was largely unchanged from the previous week, with the usual front row rotations. Brumfield made his return to hooker, and Jenkinson was unavailable.
With no appreciable wind to influence the game, and frequent sunny intervals to keep spectators warm, Morley kicked off and the ball was well-taken by Johnson on the 22. He went on the attack but the Morley defence was up quickly and pinned Driffield in their own half. Despite trying to recycle the ball, it was lost and Morley went straight onto the attack, trying to grind their way upfield against solid Driffield defence.
On five minutes, the referee awarded Morley a penalty 30 metres out after Driffield’s centres went offside. The conversion attempt went straight and true and Morley were three points up. Morley 3 – 0 Driffield
From the restart, the home side returned to the attack, and camped in Driffield’s half for another ten minutes. A long series of determined attacks probed for gaps in the Driffield line, but resolute defence kept the home side out.
With quarter of an hour gone, Driffield finally broke out of their own half and started to work their way upfield before giving away a penalty and losing the initiative. Morley gladly punted the ball downfield, reaching touch in the Driffield 22.
They took the ball in the line, and worked it along the threes, again looking for a gap in defence. Finally, just three metres out, Driffield gave away a penalty at the ruck in front of the sticks and skipper Mewburn was shown yellow. Sniffing blood with a man down in the tight, Morley opted for the scrum instead of the kick. They were not able to get the shove on, so threw the ball out to the right. However, the ball was lost and Robinson was able to clear the Driffield line.
Driffield pinched the ball at the resulting lineout, and worked their way upfield, using the backs to probe left and right. Finally, they crossed the whitewash but the ball was knocked-on in the attempt, and the initiative lost.
With half an hour gone, Driffield once again had possession and worked the ball down the threes, finding Rix on the wing with 25 metres to go. He shrugged off tackles and cut inside the last defender to touch down. The conversion attempt by Watts sailed high but missed when it hit the very top of the left post and bounced out, and Driffield had a narrow lead. Morley 3 – 5 Driffield
Driffield’s tails were now up, realising that constant pressure would finally reap reward. Dinsdale caught the deep restart, and kicked an excellent 50-22 into the Morley 22. At the resulting lineout, Driffield secured the ball and sent it left. Morley were now dropping off tackles, and the ball was popped inside to Robinson who shot through a gap to score just to the right of the posts. The conversion attempt was missed. Morley 3 – 10 Driffield
Morley returned to the attack, winning the ball back from the restart and gained a penalty just 20 metres out. This time they opted for the kick to narrow the gap, and converted well. Morley 6 – 10 Driffield
With two minutes left in the half, Driffield worked their way upfield until they were awarded a penalty in front of the sticks. Watts’ conversion from 20 metres was good. Morley 6 – 13 Driffield
In the last seconds of the half, Morley kicked deep and won the lineout five metres out. Instead of the expected catch-and-drive, they spun the ball out but a knock-on gave Driffield possession and they cleared to touch to end the half with a seven-point lead.
The second half started with Driffield on the attack, looking to press home their advantage. A score looked on, after an outstanding 20-metre break through the middle by Soanes, passed outside to Rix in support who carried for a further 10. But, Morley’s cover defence arrived in time, the attack was halted and the ball cleared to half way.
Following the lineout, Nellen was shown yellow for a technical offence and Driffield were, once again, a man down. This seemed only to spur them on and step up a gear, and they camped in Morley’s half for the duration of the card.
With Nellen’s return, Driffield continued to batter at the Morley line, looking for any opportunity. To their credit, they withstood the onslaught well and did not give away any penalties. Finally, Morley were able to win the ball back and return to attack.
From a penalty on the halfway, Morley took a quick tap and broke left. However, Driffield were not caught napping and snuffed out the attack, but gave away a penalty in the process. The 40-metre attempt was pulled left and missed.
Morley still had more to offer, and mounted a strong attack down their right side. Last man to beat, Rix, made an excellent try-saving tackle to keep them out.
Driffield returned to attack and, following an excellent break through the centre by Ryan Murray, Sowersby was on hand to continue the attack and looked to have scored. But, it was just short and the ball was whipped out to the left. With an overlap, a try was certain but the final pass was forward and the opportunity lost.
Driffield were now taking control of the game, and Morley were running out of steam and had used all their replacements. It was only a matter of time before Driffield exposed gaps and Rix exploited weak tackling to run 30 metres down the wing, being halted just 10 metres out, losing the ball forward in a crunching tackle.
With 30 minutes of the second half gone, Ryan Murray made a gap 30 metres out, sidestepping his defender and, pinning his ears back, set off for the line. After selling an excellent dummy, the full back halted him just two metres out. He popped the ball to Turner on his shoulder, who went in for the try but the conversion was missed. Morley 6 – 18 Driffield
Driffield now had the wind in their sails, and took the restart straight back into Morley territory reaching the 22 on the right wing. The ball was sent down the line to the left, finding Cullen who had come into the line to make the extra man. He bullocked his way through tackles and carried 15 metres to cross the line, converted by Watts. The bonus point was now in the bag. Morley 6 – 25 Driffield
Morley were now looking tired after the efforts of the first 60 minutes, while Driffield were stepping up a gear. Minutes later, Rix got the ball on the wide outside and ran 35 metres, breaking tackle after tackle, to go in for his second. The conversion was missed but it was now a four-score gap. Morley 6 – 30 Driffield
Almost directly after the restart, and out of nothing, Robinson exploited a half-gap in the middle of the park and took off for the try line. Looking left and right for support, he instead pinned his faith on making it to the line himself, and beat three despairing tackles to cross under the sticks, making a straightforward conversion. Morley 6 – 37 Driffield
With seconds left on the clock, and to their credit, Morley had not given up and Silkstone found a gap down the left side to go in for the try, but the conversion was missed. The referee blew the whistle shortly after the restart. Morley 11 – 37 Driffield
Driffield will be pleased that, once again, their fitness levels and commitment overpowered strong opposition. They never dropped their concentration, and applied pressure during 20 minutes with only 14 men on the park.
The five points from the game moves Driffield one point clear at the top, as Ilkley were not able to get the bonus point win at Malton & Norton. With Heath and Ilkley still having a game-in-hand, it is still all to play for in the league.
Report by Brad Webster