Driffield overcame Havant RFC to win 34-17 at Twickenham. Watch the highlights here : https://www.youtube.com/watch?app=desktop&v=kwiBH4CRI9s – scroll through the first three finals to about the 6 hour marker to see the Driffield game.
The previous day, the 3rd XV overcame Goole 19-16 to win their Eastern Merit League once again.
For the first time in Driffield RUFC’s 97-year history, they had made it to Twickenham Stadium, the home of England rugby, to play in the final of the Papa John’s Community Cup Men’s Regional 1 Championship. Driffield faced up against Havant RFC who play their rugby in Regional 1 South Central League, the same level as Driffield. They finished second in their division, one place better than Driffield in their league.
Fortunately, the Driffield selectors were once again able to pick from a full squad, giving Driffield the best chance of securing the victory.
Hundreds of local supporters had made the long trip down from East Yorkshire and were ready to support the Woldsmen, no matter the outcome.
Driffield got off to a dream start as they were awarded a penalty within 10 seconds. This was brilliantly converted from the left wing by Watts. Driffield 3-0 Havant
For the next few minutes, Driffield were really causing Havant some issues with the sheer power of their side, and it was not too long before they got the ball over the try line. From a rolling maul about ten yards out, the power and determination of the East Yorkshire side, they were able to push Havant back and Ramsden was able to get ball down for a try with eleven minutes played. Watts converted. Driffield 10-0 Havant
Havant started to get possession and put a bit of pressure on Driffield. But, as we have seen before, Driffield’s defence is not an easy one to break down. Havant’s reward from this persistent effort was a penalty, converted by their number 13. Driffield 10-3 Havant
Around the 16-minute mark, Havant found themselves a man down as number 14 was yellow-carded for a deliberate knock-down. Driffield tried their hardest to capitalise on the extra man advantage and they thought they had done so when, after an excellent break by Falkingham, Short grounded the ball. But the final off-load was deemed forward, and the try was disallowed.
For the remainder of the first half, the game stayed in the middle of the park, with each side stifling the others’ attacks. That changed when the Havant 16 found a way through to dive over in the dying seconds of the half. The conversion was successful by number 13. The whistle blew for half-time and it was all square. Driffield 10-10 Havant
The second half started with both sides on full tilt. Driffield were first to seize the opportunity, eight minutes in, when Sowersby hacked through after a poor pass by Havant. Blacker took off after the ball like a greyhound, with Robinson on his shoulder. Robinson dived on it to collect it, recycled it to Blacker who carried it forward before making the final pass to the ever-present Jenkinson, who secured the try. Once again, well converted by Watts. Driffield 17-10
Both teams locked in battle for the next 20 minutes, but Driffield’s superior fitness started to show. Johnson weaved his way forward until he was halted, and shipped the ball to Watts. He threw a brilliant 20-yard pass to Blacker, who off-loaded to the rampaging Rix. He used his strength and pace to skip past his man and gain another try for the Woldsmen, converted beautifully from the touchline by Watts. Driffield 24-10 Havant
Despite being two scores up, Driffield were not satisfied and wanted more. This did not take them long as, just two minutes later, Adam Brankley played a brilliant disguised ball to Rix who carried for 15 yards, before making the final-off load back to Brankley. Stopped just short, he reached out to place the ball over the line. Somehow, Watts superbly converted again from the touchline with just seven minutes to play. Driffield 31-10
Driffield continued to apply pressure, and earned themselves a penalty in the centre of the park about 25 yards out. Watts converted. Driffield 34-10 Havant
Even though the game was nearly out of reach, with only two minutes left on the clock, Havant refused to give up. Finally, their prop scrambled over the line, for a consolation try which was converted. Driffield 34-10 Havant
With the clock now in the red, Driffield had possession, and Tom Brankley took the ball into touch to end the game.
This was a high-quality game of rugby from both sides. Driffield’s fitness and power against a larger side stood out in the end. Havant have plenty to be proud of as they gave Driffield a real battle. Both sides put on a real show for the hundreds who made it to Twickenham.
But what a fairy tale ending for Driffield, on what was already a historic day.