Driffield travelled to Cleckheaton hoping to reverse their loss at home (by a single point) in October.
There were a few changes to the side, with Mewburn and Falkingham unavailable, and Ramsden making his first appearnce since Twickenham.
Cleckheaton kicked off, and Driffield took the attack to them, working their way up the park but meeting solid defence.
Eventually, Cleckheaton infringed, giving away two penalties in a row 25 out. Driffield ran the first, making little progress, and went for the sticks with the second on seven minutes, which Kalani Grant converted. C 0 – 3 D
From the restart, Driffield again worked the phases and made steady progress up the field, reaching the 22 before giving away a needless penalty and losing the initiative.
It was Cleckheaton’s turn to attack, and made it to the Driffield 22, before losing the ball in contact. Murray broke from inside the 22, and made 40 yards up the left before passing inside to Johnson. He carried for another 10 before flipping it back in to Murray, and a try looked certain. But the final pass was intercepted, and the opportunity lost.
After five minutes of sustained pressure by Driffield, Cleckheaton managed to win the ball back, and worked it down the left side. They found the narrowest of gaps on the outside, and made it in at the corner to score the try and take the lead. The touchline conversion was good for the extras. C 7 – 3 D
Almost from the restart, Driffield gave away a penalty 25 out on the right side, and this was slotted to extend the lead. C 10 – 3 D
Minutes later, Cleckheaton lost a man to the bin for a high tackle on Rix – time to claim the lead back ? The first opportunity came on the half-hour, with a penalty on the Cleckheaton 10 metre line. Kalani Grant took the three points. C 10 – 6 D
Again, Driffield ground their way up the park, reaching the 22 where they were awarded a penalty for another high tackle. Kalani Grant again took the three. C 10 – 9 D
With their man back on, and half-time approaching, Cleckheaton took the chance to drop a goal from just outside the 22 – a rarity in the modern game. C 13 – 9 D
They trumped this with moments to go in the half. A superb 50:20 kick gave Cleckheaton the line-out deep in Driffield’s 22. They took their own ball, and spun to the right side of the pitch to go over. The conversion was good. C 20 – 9 D HALF TIME
After the restart, Cleckheaton worked their way into Driffield territory, and made a good break down the right side, before being bundled out with five to go. Driffield fumbled the line-out, giving Cleckheaton a scrum-five. The ball went down the line to the left, and a try looked certain, but the final pass was knocked on, a lucky escape for Driffield.
Minutes later, Cleckheaton were back five out, and awarded the scrum. The eight-man shove came on, and was well held, so the ball was released right. Finally, Driffield won the ball back and were able to clear their lines.
But Cleckheaton came straight back. From a scrum 25 out, they released the back line to the right and ran it in down the line to score. The conversion attempt was fluffed – the only poor place-kick of the day. C 25 – 9 D
Staring defeat in the face with 30 minutes still to go, Driffield needed to come up with some fresh ideas and points, as Cleckheaton were effectively countering every effort.
Finally, mid-way in the half, a Driffield penalty on the opposition 22 was taken quickly, catching Cleckheaton off-guard. Will Hughes was just able to make it to the line to score, converted by Kalani Grant. C 25 – 16 D
Cleckheaton tried to extend the lead shortly after the restart with a drop-goal, but it was well off-target to the right.
Driffield might have been hoping that their opposition might be tiring by now. But, Cleckheaton continued to looker sharper than the Driffield spectators had hoped, countering every attempt to close the gap.
Finally, with five to go and having ground their way slowly into the opposition 22, Harry Grant was able to find his way to the line, for Tom Sowersby to convert, reducing the gap to C 25 – 23 D.
Could Driffield snatch victory in the last five minutes ? It was not to be, as the Cleckheaton defence continued to be rock-solid, and the final whistle went with Driffield only being able to claim a losing bonus point.
Credit must go to Cleckheaton for their defensive work : they made sure that neither Brankley nor Rix were able to made their trademark breaks. Driffield’s line-out work was sadly missing the efforts of Mewburn and Falkingham.
Other results, all home games
- Driffield 2 30-36 Wharfedale 2
- Driffield 3 41-17 Scarborough 2
- Driffield 4 12-31 Scarborough 3