A full house at Kelleythorpe this Saturday, as all four men’s XVs have home fixtures : 1st XV welcome Cleckheaton RUFC, 2nd XB welcome Scunthorpe 2nds, 3rd XV welcome Barton and the 4th XV welcome Scunthorpe 4ths. Colts finish the action on Sunday as they travel to Dinnington RUFC.

Firstly, apologies for the lack of previews for the last couple of weeks, IT issues meant I had no access.

What a weekend of rugby we have at Kelleythorpe this Saturday : 140 players taking to this pitch, some effort from everyone involved.

1st XV welcome Cleckheaton RUFC for our re-arranged fixture from the cold snap just into the New Year.  See the full match programme here I wrote for the original game that this fixture could be the one that shaped our season – at the time, Cleckheaton were 2 points and 1 place behind us in the league and were on a bit of a roll in the league.  Since then, they have only had the one win – that was last weekend as they welcomed Paviors to Cleckheaton, winning 36-14.  In between, they lost at Ilkley 36-5, lost at home to York 7-15 and lost at home to Heath 7-42.  Putting that alongside other results in the league, and it sees Cleckheaton now sitting in 7th place with 51 points.  Like us, they have just three fixtures left.

Driffield’s form has been the complete opposite.  Since our loss at Billingham back in January, we have taken the maximum 20 points on offer, with wins over Doncaster Phoenix, Scunthorpe, Alnwick and last weekend’s win over Heath.  Folk are saying last weekend’s game was one of the best performances from a Driffield side in many a year.  I was not there, so cannot comment.  However, I have been told that Heath gave us a test in the 1st half, before they ran out of steam and we blew them away in the second half.

It must be stated that the squad are in great place right now. The loss at Billingham was a tough one to take.  However, at the time many said we gave a really good side a really good test on home soil (carpet).  From then on we have looked very good.  What is also very promising is that this young side are a group of very talented lads, who work together as a team to get the performance, not a team made up around a couple of super-talented players.  The future looks very good at this moment.  Congratulations to Bash, Coops, Tosh, Youngy and the other coaches for helping the players get to where they are right now, and to players for producing on the pitch.  A great effort.

We also finished the weekend with a little bit of player recognition.  James Watts is now the leading points scorer in the league, currently sat with 206 points under his belt.  It is tight at the top of this league though : 202 Johnson (Heath); 201 Roxby (Billingham); 197 Moir (Alnwick).

Jenkinson was also named of ‘Player of the Round’ on the league’s social media account.  Congrats to Jenky.

Unfortunately, Jenky is not available this weekend.  However, he is replaced by the ever-present Turner, who moves from second row to back row to join Falkingham and Johnson.  Brigham is unavailable, so Watts switches to 10, and Sowersby comes in at 9.  Rix moves to centre with Scurry getting a start on the wing.  Pettinger starts at hooker and takes the captain’s band.  McKinnon and Thundercliffe his support at props.  Grant comes back in to cover Turner’s switch.  Brankley, Blenkinsop and Ryan Murray make up the bench.

Sadly, promotion has now sailed by, as our win over Heath last weekend meant that Billingham’s win over a travelling Sandal side made the top spot out of reach for both.  So, Billingham are Regional 1 North East Champions for 2022/23.  Billingham followed the script finishing 45-7 and taking the title and promotion.  Many congratulations to them : they started the season as favourites, and have not really put a foot wrong : apart from losing at Alnwick in the third round of fixtures, they won everything until they lost at Doncaster Phoenix in January.  We wish you the best for your season in National League 2 North.

The good news is that we get to enjoy another season at this great level of rugby, and it is looking even tougher for next season.  It looks like Blaydon and Harrogate will drop into this league from the one above, and Moortown look set to pip Pontefract to the title in the league below.  So we will loose Billingham, West Bridgford (most likely) and either Scunthorpe or Paviors, and gain Blaydon, Harrogate and Moortown.

The 2nd XV also have a re-arranged fixture against Scunthorpe 2nds.  Driffield won at Scunthorpe earlier in the season 37-25.  They travelled to league leaders Wharfedale last Saturday : although they came away with a 29-20 loss, they put in a very good performance, and sit in the play-off spots in the league.  We have Wharfedale coming to Driffield in March, with a full pre-match meal before the game to give the lads some well deserved support – hey are having a great season.

The 3rd XV have not had much action recently, although having 4 teams is very positive for Driffield. The negative is that we are finding it much harder to get opposition for the 3’s & 4’s, without facing the same teams time & time again. Hopefully this will correct itself shortly.  For the 3rds are facing a barrage of fixtures starting this weekend with Barton.

The 4ths also face Scunthorpe.  They too are having  a good season, picking up games when they can, and making the most of the rugby on offer.

Due to re-seeding on the back pitch, the 3rds and 4ths will be playing over on the floodlight pitches on the industrial estate. All K.O.s are all 2.15pm.

There really is only one place to be this weekend : four great games of rugby on offer, a sold out pre-match lunch, Six Nations on the big screen (Wales v England).  And a great atmosphere. See you there.

Good Luck to all in Blue, Black & White.

1st XV v Cleckheaton

  1. Bryce McKinnon
  2. Simon Pettinger* (C)
  3. Josh Thundercliffe
  4. Harry Grant*
  5. Sam Gleeson
  6. Kyle Turner
  7. Ed Falkingham*
  8. Ben Johnson
  9. Tom Sowersby*
  10. James Watts*
  11. Owen Scurry*
  12. Robbie Rix
  13. Ben Blacker*
  14. James Short*
  15. Ben Dinsdale*
  16. Mark Blenkinsop
  17. Adam Brankley*
  18. Ryan Murray*