North One East
Driffield RUFC 26 v Percy Park RFC 6
Coach Patton kicks a bucket
If a bucket was there I am sure the bucket would have got it…however in this case my imaginary bucket was actually a case of Gatorade….our Coach Lawrence doesn’t often express his emotions, yet the sight of numerous bottles of Gatorade spinning their way along the dead ball line tells the story of this encounter. Frustration. Frustration was shown in the Technical area and further in the sight of player coach Ash Smith running across to that bench requesting noise, and a lift, as Percy Park’s game fell apart in the second half. Percy Park started really well, taking a well-deserved 6 point lead. They were playing in all the right places; pinging the corners and playing behind the Driffield line…the question (even on this Monday morning!) is how did it go so wrong?
The weather was….not good…a mixture of showers (some heavy) and sunshine made the ground greasy. The ball zipped along the surface and on the gather was difficult to take. You could argue perfect conditions for turning the opposition and playing high up the pitch…and that is how Park started. Ash Smith was in imperious kicking form and pushed the ball to the corners. Driffield did not like the line out and Michael Langlands was taking and disrupting everything that Driffield threw in. For the first 20 to 25 minutes Driffield were at ‘sixes and sevens’ and Park took advantage.
The first points on the board came from a good penalty strike as the Driffield ‘6’ was penalised for not rolling away. The second came from a mazy run from Jack Peters that put the visiting team in the right area of the pitch. Some great work on the ground kept the Tynesider’s in possession. Park went through the phases. Some sterling defensive work saw the Driffield ‘8’ gather a loose ball before being flattened by a ‘Langlands’ exocet. Ball knocked on and such was Driffield’s desire to re gather the ball, the player picking up was yards offside. Penalty Park and duly dispatched for a 6 point lead.
A ‘rush of blood’ from a black and white shirt saw a collect from the air whilst standing in an offside position. Despite loud calls to ‘Leave it’ the player gathered and as a consequence Park went on the defensive. Driffield went to the line and a ‘catch and drive’ saw them ‘on or about’ the 22. For some inexplicable reason Park failed to defend the blind side. An open corridor seen by the Driffield 8. A deft offload sent his scrum half down that channel for an unopposed try. With the touch down well out wide the conversion looked difficult to take and that proved to be the case. 5 to 6 the score.
Momentum is a funny thing in a game….up to this point Driffield were struggling. The score gave them belief. Driffield began to kick behind and Park were on the floor gathering. The Driffield 8, 9 and 10 combination started to work their magic and the game became more even.
An Ali Blair interception caused Driffield hearts to flutter, yet their cover was good. Their organised defensive work was further exhibited when they swamped Drew Walker as the speedy winger took a good step and raced to the line.
Park continued to pressure the Driffield defence. Instead of kicking behind Park appeared to change tactics by running the ball or hitting up. Driffield proved masters of the defensive game and Park made no headway. It also has to be said that defensively Park are a good unit and so the game became stuck in the middle with some brutal hits. The collision from the double up tackle, or on occasions the 3 to 4 tackle on a player, could be heard from the side line. The ‘heat of the fray’ was not for the faint hearted and on occasion some players ‘took the knee’. You could see that players were tiring. The game looked exhausting and both coaches ran the changes.
On one occasion the Driffield coach entered the pitch and whilst his player was receiving treatment he delivered instructions to the field of play. An action Coach Patten was unhappy with. He hadn’t quite kicked a Gatorade but he was working up to it!
With the contact area being hotly contested the next score could only come from a mistake or a referee’s interpretation of that area and unfortunately it was Percy Park who fell afoul of the whistle. The away side having been adjudged to have ‘held on’. The penalty was direct but it had to cover distance. The strike was good and over it went. Driffield ahead by ‘8 to 6’ as the turnaround approached.
The half time chat was about being more direct, back to pinging the corners and hitting up in 2’s. Driffield weren’t putting up in a defensive line out. It was an area Park thought they could take advantage of.
The re start was horrible. Park knocked on. Driffield ball and Park were immediately under the cosh. And Driffield made them pay. When under pressure there is a tendency to drift offside and that is what happened. Park were over eager and the referee punished the visiting team. The kick was right in front of the posts. The home side fly half didn’t miss. 11-6
Further pain was inflicted for the same offence. Park had good possession which was wasted by ‘not releasing on the floor’. To be fair Driffield’s ‘work on the deck’ was very good, although to the partisan supporter that didn’t matter as attack was turned into defence and the inevitable happened. Percy Park went offside. Park received a referees warning. Driffield elected to take the points. 14-6, the game was drifting away from the visiting team and the rain began to fall.
Sean Williamson was on for Jonny Dubois providing a welcome boost to the First XV squad. Dubois was glad of the break, not that he got one, as Michael Birkett ‘took the knee’ and Jonny was back on again. The changes in the front row proved to be disruptive as Driffield got the upper hand. Having said, and not being an expert, the home side looked to me to be ‘walking around’ and that should have been our penalty. The referee disagreed and it is his opinion that matters and so we went on the back foot.
Driffield continued to look behind Park’s line and we countered by putting three deep. That tactic didn’t stop the grubber kick and the chase. There were foot races all over the field and on one occasion a Driffield flyer looked to have touched down across cross the line. Luckily he knocked on and we breathed again.
Michael Birkett returned to the fray. With the front row stabilized we had a platform and from that platform we brought Michael Grove into the game. Michael is ‘lightening quick’. Showing fleet of foot he was really unlucky with one kick ahead. Ali Blair and Seb Reece started to combine and Smith got back ‘into his groove’. The game looked to be spinning Percy Park’s way.
A quickly taken Driffield 22 drop out was foiled and Park camped in the home sides half. Jake Smith was stripped of the ball only for Michael Langlands to win it back. Coach Patten rang the changes in an attempt to keep everybody fresh. Smith kicked to the line. With ball secured Park made a mess in the middle enabling a Driffield boot to get to the ball. A rush ahead saw the collect and with good hands Driffield attacked the space. Only a superb covering Grove tackle prevented the breakout score.
Park came back. Our pack took us toward the Driffield line. Josh Hedley drove at the Driffield posts. We gathered momentum and looked to have got over. Arms were thrust to the air. With ball held up Park were awarded the 5 metre scrum. Sound scrummaging saw Ash Smith picking up and gaining ‘hand on ball’ only to be taken early by an onrushing defence. Penalty Park. Driffield offside. Easy kick and 3 points. For some reason a decision was made to go back to the scrum. With 15 minutes still to go the better option should have been the kick. If taken and at 14-9 we could have been within 7. Decision made. It was a good scrum and the ball came back. Park went with quick hands to the corner. A flick pass from Ash Smith was seen to be forward. Albeit the covering tackle on Ali Blair was good and Park would have failed to score. From this moment we went ‘to pot’.
Driffield retained their ball and attacked through their ‘8’. Park lost their footing in the defensive line and Driffield went through at real pace. Again Grove made the covering tackle supported by Seb Reece. As Reece went to the ruck the referees hand went up, indicating that the player had infringed. The Driffield play came to a halt and the referee went to his pocket. Yellow for Reece. It looked harsh.
With the extra man Driffield punished. And quickly. Driffield went ‘right to left’ throwing bodies into the line. We needed a tackle to bring the ball to the floor. It didn’t happen. We went offside…again. Driffield continued to play and we ran out of numbers. A kick behind and a short chase saw the try and as a consequence Gatorade went spinning down the dead ball line. With the conversion taken 21-6.
Park needed a lift. Verbal encouragement from the bench seemed to galvanize and we pummeled the Driffield line. Some very dubious high tackles crept in. Park kept going and played with an advantage. We ended up on the ‘5’ and Langlands was taken down with one that looked around the neck. A sharp shrill of the whistle…penalty to the home side. Percy Park penalised for appealing the high tackle. Attack was turned into defence and we were scrambling. Again we went offside but on this occasion we held out.
Seb Reece returned to the battle as Park inched their way past the half way line. At this point we were looking for the score. Playing for a little bit of pride, only for that wheel to turn in the home sides favour. A robust tackle knocked the ball from Michael Birketts hand and that loose ball was seized upon by that ‘8’ again. He passed the ball, went for the return and flipped a pass to his wing who ran down the field to score. The conversion being the last kick of the game.26-6.
The mood after the game was one of real disappointment and frustration. We had our moments. We could have won. All of that is true. Yet Driffield are a very good side. Defensively they work hard for each other and their movement is quick and thought out. They absorbed and didn’t panic; they just, slowly, crept back into the game. Driffield, to use that word ‘frustrated’ Park and in the doing we became…frustrated!!....and in that sentence Driffield showed that they were the better team on the day….sometimes you just have to take one on the chin!!
Next week the 1st XV are at home to Morley RFC with a 2:15pm kick off. The faithful will be looking for a response and I can ensure all that our ‘black and whites’ will be determined to bounce back...should be a cracker. Be suter that you are there to see it!