Driffield welcomed Cleckheaton to Kelleythorpe, looking for a comfortable win to keep them toward the top of the table. Cleckheaton arrived having won only one game out of six, and sitting bottom of the league. But, the previous week had seen them beat mid-table Doncaster Phoenix, so perhaps a resurgence was happening ?
Driffield kicked off to Cleckheaton, who carried the ball back into Driffield territory, where they camped for eight minutes, meeting solid defence but keeping the ball alive, and making no errors.
This paid dividends, when a scrum was awarded ten meters out, the eight picked up from the tail and rumbled right supported by his flankers, and forced his way over the line. The conversion was missed. D 0-5 C
Stung into action, Driffield retrieved the ball from the restart, and got into the opposition half but could not find their way through. Finally the ball was lost and Cleckheaton hacked it through twice, almost reaching the 22. Driffield went offside at the tackle, ceding a penalty which Cleckheaton gladly converted to give them an eight point lead. D 0-8 C
For the next five minutes, Driffield ground their way up the pitch, going through the phases until they were finally awarded a penalty that Grant put into the corner. The catch-and-drive was held up, so Grant sent the ball right where Brankley crashed over to the right of the sticks to open the account. Grant converted. D 7-8 C
Cleckheaton returned to attack, and Driffield gave away a penalty for not rolling away at the tackle, which was converted. D 7-11 C
Now it was Driffield’s turn to apply pressure, and worked their way up the park to five meters out. Finding no way through in the middle, the ball was sent left where Rix crashed over for the try from short range, converted by Grant to give Driffield the lead for the first time in the game. D 14-11 C
But Cleckheaton were not ready to give it up and came straight back at Driffield, working the ball quickly from right to left where there was a two-man overlap, giving them an easy run-in. An excellent conversion from near the touchline gave them a 14 – 18 lead as the half-time whistle blew. D 14-18 C
The second half started with Driffield trying to gain dominance in all areas of the pitch, and this paid off ten minutes into the half when Rix weaved his way through from just outside the 22 to score, and snatch the lead back. D 19-18 C
But this was short-lived, as the teams traded penalties initially giving Cleckheaton the lead back, before Driffield returned the favour to make it D 22-21 C
Now it was Rix’s turn to work his magic and, in a mirror of his previous try went through again for the hat-trick. The conversion was missed, but Driffield now had a six-point lead, and the crowd hoped they would begin to extend the lead. D 27-21 C
Cleckheaton were having none of it, and worked their way up the park before spinning the ball down the line from left to right, where they found a two-man overlap again, allowing them in at the right corner. Another superb touchline kick gave them a single point lead D 27-28 C.
Five minutes later, Cleckheaton pounced on a handling error in the Driffield 22, and raced in for the try which was converted to give them an eight-point lead, and Driffield needing to score twice in the last five minutes to win the game. D 27-35 C
Once again, Rix came to the rescue, powering through tackles on the right of the pitch from 20 out. Grant took the extras to close the deficit to one point. D 34-35 C
Try as they might, Driffield could not break the line in the remaining minutes, and Cleckheaton kept their discipline to avoid penalties, and the final whistle went with Driffield losing by a point.
On the bright side, Driffield took two points from the game, which lifted them by two places in the table, but will be disappointed not to have beaten the lowest team in the league at ‘Fortress Kelleythorpe’.
Cleckheaton will have enjoyed their trip over, and the journey back.
The 2nd XV travelled to Wharfedale, where they lost 17 – 26 in a game they could have won.
The 3rd and 4th XVs both travelled to Scarborough : the 3rd XV won 36 – 17, and the 4th XV lost 12 – 22.
On Sunday, the Ladies 1st XV entertained Birkenhead Park Ladies, and got their first win of the season 67 – 19