Saturday saw the Woldsmen unexpectedly playing their final league fixture of the season at home in a hastily rearranged match due to Harrogate’s pitch being unplayable once again, and their back-up pitch at Knaresborough also unable to be used.

The short notice did not deter a healthy number of both home and away supporters attending on a sunny, warm but very blustery afternoon.

Only a win would definitely secure the title for Harrogate, the Woldsmen hoping to cement their commendable fourth place after a tough season.

Driffield kicked off into the gale force wind and soon had recovered the ball and set about probing the Harrogate defence : McKinnon and Brankley, A to the fore as the Woldsmen made a sprightly start. 

With the wind in their faces, Driffield knew their handling had to be sure and with Sowersby, T marshalling his runners well they slowly progressed up the field.

After eight minutes, the Harrogate defence cracked as Johnson and Murray engineered an opening for Brankley, A to cross for the opening try.  Watts, who had only just passed a late fitness test. slotted the conversion.  7-0 Woldsmen

Harrogate came straight back at the home side, kicking deep and applying pressure to force a line-out close to the Driffield line.  Affter several short passages of play, Harrogate rumbled over for their first try, making it 7-7 with the conversion.

Undeterred, Driffield came back at their guests, playing some of the best rugby they have played all season.  Short passing and swift recycling soon found them close to the Harrogate line and, when one of Harrogate players got pinged for offside, Watts stepped up to claim the penalty and give Driffield a 10-7 lead at 15 minutes.

The see-saw nature of the game continued for six minutes, when a lapse in the Driffield defence allowed Dobson to carve his way through and touch down for Harrogate to give the visitors a 10-14 lead.

Once again the Woldsmen were not fazed and, after some delightful passages of play, Captain Brankley stormed over for a great try.  The tricky conversion was missed.  15-14

A further six minutes later, the ever-industrious Tom Sowersby crossed for another score and extended the lead for the Woldsmen to 20-14. So it remained until half time.

With the wind at their backs for the second half, surely the advantage was with the home side : leading as they did and having played such a good half of rugby ?

Sadly for the home supporters, Harrogate had other ideas and started the second half like a different team.

Right from the start, the visitors ran some incisive lines catching their opponents flat-footed, scoring a try after just a couple of minutes.  20-19

From the restart, they once again opened up the Driffield defence releasing Dobson, who was outstanding for the visitors, to score almost a full length try, converted to take the lead.  20-26 to Harrogate.

The tide had definitely turned for Driffield, not helped by the loss of McKinnon who had had an outstanding half and creeping indiscipline which resulted in lots of penalties for minor infringements.

However, the home side were still full of endeavour and, after a great driving maul and some quick hands, Robbie Rix burst through to score a fine try, converted by Watts to take the lead back.  27-26 

This was to be the last bright spot for the home team as Harrogate grew in confidence.  First, the ball bounced their way and they scored a try with a cross-field kick and continued to exploit a slightly disjointed home side scoring a further two tries to run out deserved winners, guaranteeing promotion.  27-45

First of all, congratulations to Harrogate on deservedly winning the league and promotion.  Also, congratulations to the Woldsmen on another sterling league season which sees them firmly ensconced in the upper end of the table. 

Driffield now turn their attention to cup rugby : both the Yorkshire Cup and Papa John’s Community Cup.  The season just might have a few twists and turns yet.

Next week, guess what, Harrogate away (or at home depending on the weather) in the Papa Johns Community Cup.

Other results (all home fixtures)

  • 3rd XV v Goole 2 won 24 – 19
  • 4th XV v Goole 3 won 41 – 0
  • Ladies 1st XV v Harrogate Ladies won 39 – 22