After three weeks of no 1st XV rugby, Driffield got back into action and won last Saturday at Rossendale in the Papa John’s Community Cup, a competition which has had a few teething problems to say the least.  With a number of changes to the team, the lads put in an excellent performance, playing some great rugby.  Young debutants Tom Pick,  Jack Marcroft and Jamie Hall all came into the team and did themselves proud.  Changes were made to last week’s team with Robbie Rix, Ed Falkingham, Tom Sowersby and Joe Robinson all returning.  Simon Pettinger was injured so Henry Furbank came into the squad.

Alnwick have certainly had the rough end of the draw in the Papa John’s Community Cup as both of their games are away following the exclusion of Dudley Kingswinford.  They set a fine example both on and off the pitch.  Driffield’s task would not be easy, as they are always formidable opposition, home or away.  The stakes were pretty high and It was fairly simple now : win today and Driffield would be into the northern final which will be played on Saturday, 22 April.

On a still and sunny spring afternoon, the game started with both teams getting straight into the action attacking each other’s lines, but both defences were strong and it was rare for either side to get into the others’ 22.  The first score came after 17 minutes, when Dinsdale converted a penalty to give Driffield a narrow lead.  Driffield 3 – 0 Alnwick

But, just three minutes later, Alnwick returned the favour and slotted their own to bring the scores level.  Driffield 3 – 3 Alnwick

They trumped this four minutes later, with an excellent try by their 13, who went in under the sticks making an easy conversion.  Driffield 3 – 10 Alnwick

On the half-hour, it looked as if Driffield would draw level, but the final pass to Rix at short range was judged forward, so Alnwick had the drop-out.

After five minutes more play, Alnwick were awarded another penalty allowing them to edge further ahead.  Driffield 3 – 13 Alnwick

With around five minutes left in the half, Falkingham finally found a way through the excellent Alnwick defence and charged 20 yards towards the sticks, where he was stopped five yards out.  He flipped the ball to Adam Brankley in support, who he went in to score under the posts, converted by Dinsdale.  The whistle for half-time blew five minutes later.  Driffield 10 – 13 Alnwick

Alnwick started the second half well, again meeting stiff defence, but eventually the Alnwick 13 found a way through and the try was converted.  Driffield 10 – 20 Alnwick

The game was starting to get away from Driffield, and they responded well, with Dinsdale cutting back in from the right wing to find a way through the centres, twelve minutes into the half.  He was unable to convert on this occasion.  Driffield 15 – 20 Alnwick

Alnwick came straight back, determined to reclaim the margin, and scored an excellent try down the right side of the pitch, followed by an excellent conversion from near the touch line.  Driffield 15 – 27 Alnwick

Now it was Driffield’s turn, when Dinsdale burst through the middle, finding Falkingham on his shoulder when he was stopped five yards out.  Dinsdale converted.  Driffield 22 – 27 Alnwick

Driffield were still chasing the game, but too many loose passes were the undoing of many attacks, and the penalty counts by both sides made it seem likely that a yellow card would be produced soon.

Driffield finally went back into the lead thirty minutes into the second half, when Tom Sowersby found a way through the middle of the park, converted by Dinsdale.  Driffield 29 – 27 Alnwick

Just three minutes later, Falkingham extended the lead with another try, but the conversion was missed.  Driffield 34 – 27 Alnwick

But Alnwick were not down yet and, four minutes later, scored their own try when missed tackles by Driffield let them through.  The conversion was made, making it all square with less than ten minutes to go.  Driffield 34 – 34 Alnwick

Alnwick reclaimed the lead four minutes later with a try wide out on the right, but the conversion was missed left.  Driffield 34 – 39 Alnwick

With minutes left, Driffield pounded the Alnwick line and looked to have sealed the victory, but the ball was held up over the line twice.  The ball was reclaimed from the drop-out each time, and fresh assaults launched.  Finally, staring defeat in the eye, they launched another assault and Johnson bullocked his way through under the sticks from short range, making Dinsdale’s conversion more straightforward.  The full-time whistle went as soon as it landed, and the roar from the players and crowd could be heard in Wetwang.  Driffield 41 – 39 Alnwick

This was an excellent game of rugby, played in great spirit by both teams.  Alnwick have every right to be proud of their levels of fitness, outstanding defence, and willingness to seize any opportunities that presented themselves.  Driffield can do the same, and their capacity to chase the game to the final whistle.

They now wait to find the outcome of Lymm v. Heath next weekend, to see who they will play in the northern play-off.