This would be another tough test for the 1st XV as they hosted 2nd place York RUFC in Regional 1 North East. York were on the same points as leaders Harrogate, separated by points difference only, and Driffield trailed them by a point in third position.
Games between the two sides are usually tight, as they play very similar styles of rugby. The previous season, Driffield had claimed both wins, winning both home and away fixtures by scoring in the final minutes to snatch the win from the jaws of defeat.
York were straight into the fray, and made their way into the Driffield 22, where they were awarded a penalty in front of the sticks with less than 5 minutes gone. D 0 – 3 Y.
From the restart, Driffield won back the ball, and started to work their way up the park. Awarded a penalty wide out in the 22, they elected to kick for the corner. The resulting catch-and-drive went over, but York were able to hold them up, and the attempt was thwarted.
Play stayed in the middle of the park, with excellent defence from both sides meaning that little territory could be made. With a quarter-hour gone, Driffield were awarded a penalty just outside the 22. This time, they went for the sticks, and Kalani Grant converted to level the match. D 3 – 3 Y.
Within minutes, York were back in the Driffield 22. A promising attack by them came to nothing when the ball was lost forward five yards out.
Driffield returned to attack. With York’s defence up flat, a clever chip over their heads caught most of the line off-guard, and Adam Brankley set off after the ball and a probable try, but he was just beaten to it.
On the half-hour, the York scrum-half broke from half-way and founds gaps in the middle. A try looked possible, but the cover tackle came in and he was stopped.
With less than ten minutes to go in the half, York had a line-out five metres out on the left of the pitch. The catch-and-drive was stopped just short.
This was followed by two more line-out in the same place. On the second occasion, York worked the ball to the right, and found a way through to the left of the sticks in spite of robust defence. The try was converted to give York the lead. D 3 – 10 Y.
With seconds to go before half time, it looked like Driffield would even the score when a brilliant break from half-way by Rix found gaps in the middle and a try looked certain. But the lightest of tap-tackles halted him on the 22. A player in support hacked through and the ball crossed the line, but York just got to it first. Half time.
The second half started with both sides trying to find gaps in the defences. Finally, with fifteen minutes gone in the half, York ground their way forward and made it over the line, but the ball was held up.
Now it was Driffield’s turn to pressure the York line. After sustained pressure in the York 22, and multiple phases, Johnson crashed through from three yards out to score under sticks, converted by Kalani Grant. D 10 – 10 Y.
On the half-hour, York were awarded a penalty 25 out, and happily took the points to reclaim the lead. D 10 – 13 Y.
With less than ten minutes to go, York were awarded another penalty just five out. The scrum-half saw that Driffield were slow to organise, and took a quick tap and ran in unopposed. Surprisingly, the conversion missed, but the gap meant that Driffield now had to score twice. D 10 – 18 Y.
With less than five minutes to go, a York player was shown the yellow for a high tackle. Perhaps with a man advantage, Driffield could pull this one back ?
They camped in the York 22, but finally lost the ball and gave York the scrum. After checking with thew referee, York won the ball and kicked it dead to clinch the game. D 10 – 18 Y.
York had beaten Driffield and deserved to do so. They had plenty of possession and took their chances well – Driffield also had their chances but only converted one.
Both sides met very stout defensive displays. York will want to look at why they lost the ball in attack from simple handling errors on too many occasions. Driffield’s pack had the slight edge but they need to look hard at their lineout work – losing the ball at the lineout from a penalty yards out, at a critical time in the game, cost them dearly.
The 2nd XV also entertained York at Kelleythorpe, and ran out 38-24 winners.
On Sunday, the Ladies 1st XV travelled to Halifax, and lost 6-31 in a wet and slippery encounter against bigger forwards.