North One East
Driffield RFC 49 v Percy Park RFC 21
Horrible result…but don’t press the panic button just yet!!
At the games whistle this result created so much debate and conversation that an elder statesmen had to be given some lubricating resuscitation to prevent a near volcanic explosion….with a Pompeii moment calmed and equilibrium restored all agreed that this was a game, that at the break, Percy Park could have and should have won. And it was within a tragic second period that it all went wrong. A yellow card 10 or 15 minutes into the restart proved calamitous. Yet two opportunities prior to that card could have given Park the game. A player stripped of the ball as he dived for the line and a ‘three v one’ pass dropped on the ‘22’ , if taken ,would have given Percy Park momentum. Failure to take those chances proved pivotal as our team appeared to fold and give the day to our opponents. A collapse that had our coaching team and bench exclaiming “What are we doing!” And there is the reason why we shouldn’t be pressing the panic button just yet. For up to that point we were very competitive. As Coach Patton determined “Throughout this game there was flashes of what we are about. We need to be more positive about what we do and inflict our game plan on the opposition and not the other way round. We can and will overcome that”
What were the positives? Debutant Matty Boustead is a real find. Starting the game at full back he has pace and power that will have Park faithful on their feet. Scrum half Will Haskins is a great player. I will not say too much, just come down to Preston Avenue and see for yourself. The centre partnership of Ali Blair and Seb Reece, with more game time together, will be the best in this league. Cameron Coates and Andrew Walker show real promise for the future. Then there is the combative Dan Ward playing at hooker or loose head. Dan is a player that always gets his team on the front foot and the type of player the opposition hate to play against. As Captain Jonny Dubois was keen to illuminate “This season we have real strength in depth. There have been changes from last year. Once we get the team playing together we will be more than alright”.
So what went wrong?
In very blustery conditions, that saw a strong wind swirling around the Kellythorpe pitch, saw both sides wondering where a wind advantage could be taken. As a consequence the opening exchanges were in the middle of the park with some great offensive work from the ‘Black and Whites’ driving into the Driffield half. Only a fine tackle on scrum half Will Haskins prevented a promising move from resulting in a score. It was real gritty work in the trenches from two sides who looked evenly matched. Josh Hedley and Austin Phillips were well into the heat of the battle. With Ali Blair penalised for a high tackle possession ebbed and flowed. The question was…who was going to break first?. As Captain Jonny Dubois lined up his man for the tackle he went too high allowing the Driffield ‘8’ to hand the attempted tackle away. With the line broken Driffield flooded through to score. With the conversion taken…first blood to the East Riding side.
From the restart Park kicked long. Without any competition on the ball Driffield returned the kick with gusto toward the Park wing. Andrew Walker took the ball well. Unfortunatly his positional kick was caught by the wind and sailed straight out into touch. From the restart Park were under pressure. With Josh Hedley unable to get a robust grip on his Driffield rival the opposition player wriggled free and over the line to score. With the conversion missed it was 12-0 to Driff.
Back came Park. And the ‘black and whites’ enjoyed a real dominant period of the game. Yet a bullet pass, that could not be held, prevented Park from making any inroads on the score line. One great break by Ali Blair supported by Andrew Walker had Driffield clutching at thin air. Then with ball in hand would come ‘that pass’… a bullet sent ricocheting off the shoulder of an on rushing Park player.
A splendid run from Matty Boustead put Ali Blair into space and in on the line. A despairing tap tackle brought him to the floor, with the inevitable pile in or pile on resulting in a penalty to Percy Park. With the scrum elected there followed a one handed pass which bounced off Dubois. With ball collected the oval object of dispute found its way into the grateful hands of Seb Reece, who duly flew past the Driffield defence to score. With Michael Grove kicking the conversion Park were back in the game. 12-7.
From the kick off a high ball bounced off the chest of the unlucky Dubois. With Park slow to react Driffield were all over the 'pill' like a rash. Several missed tackles allowed the pillaging Driffield pack through to score. With the conversion taken. 19-7. In truth that score should have been prevented.
As lineouts were difficult in the wind, both sides went to the scrum when the opportunity beckoned. And Park proved more able. One wheel had Driffield struggling to clear their lines. From the line out Matty Boustead was in the back line. Tackle. Ball retained saw Cameron Coates attempt a lofted pass over the defence, only to see the ball intercepted and possession lost. Several words of wisdom were spoken and the game flowed across the middle of the pitch.
A thumping tackle saw Park fail to reorganize to a lost ball allowing Driffield to burst through. Their number 8 offloaded to the onrushing full back. Faced by Boustead the Driffield player twisted and turned before being set on his backside by a good solid tackle around the legs. With his arms free the tackled player offloaded the ball on his left shoulder to the supporting winger who raced through unopposed to score. The conversion was missed.24-7.
A score was needed to keep Park in the game. The halfway point was approaching. A great line out went to the ruck. With players coming around, Will Haskins put Josh Hedley in the clear. As Michael Birkett ran a great line possession possibilities abounded. Yet the one handed back door pass went bouncing off the Park player. Scrum. An almighty shove put the Driffield pack back. Ball re-won. Boustead into the line and deep into the red zone. With the ball moved to the right, a Driffield player illegally prevented the continued forward movement of the ball by sticking his hands where he shouldn’t have. The Driffield wing received just punishment. The referee dispatching him to the bin for 10. From the penalty the Percy Park forwards moved the ball inside toward the front of the Driffield posts. A pick up from Michael Langlands had the Park support shouting “Out, out”. A sympathetic pass had Michael Grove gathering the ball in front and over the line to score. With Grove converting his try it was 24-14 at the turn around and all to play for. And Driffield were down to 14.
From the kick off Park were electric. Making real in roads into the Driffield 22. A high tackle on Ali Blair saw Park given a ‘free ball’. An audacious kick over the rushing defence saw a foot race that the Driffield full back won by the narrowest of margins. Still it was back to the penalty. With Park deciding to keep the ball in hand, a series of quick passes but Liam Blackburn in possession and diving for the line. As he was about to make the score a desperate Driffield hand was flung at the ball gathering the same from Liam’s hand. The chance went begging. Unlucky. Great play from Park.
Park were dominant in all areas of the pitch and the travelling support could feel another score. Deep in the Driffield half Park took the ball on in the scrum. A Michael Langlands pick up and pass saw the advancing Seb Reece dummy his man by moving as he caught the pass. With the Driffield man in a heap Seb Reece was through to score a magicians try. With the score converted 24-21 to Driffield.... but Park were in control.
Ali Blair punched his way through the Driffield tackle and into space. With that ground covering pace he looped to drag the Driffield full back out to the touch line, keeping two supporting players on his inside. With the Driffield player committed the pass went inside to the support. There was nobody at home. The pass was not taken and the ball bounced to the ground. The chance was missed.
As play continued back to the half way line Ethan Wilson was penalised for coming in on the side. Driffield took the tap and Will Haskins was adjudged not to be 10. Penalty and the referee went to the pocket. Yellow for Haskins. Park down to 14.
Well from here I could go on but I would only relive my despair. It is suffice to say that I was also introduced to some new North Shields words! The score went as follows:
Try 31-21. Penalty; 34-21. Try 39-21. Try 44-21 and finally Try 49-21. For those who have managed to follow this journey to this point I refer back to the beginning … “A yellow card 10 or 15 minutes into the restart proved calamitous. Yet two opportunities prior to that card could have given Park the game. A player stripped of the ball as he dived for the line and a ‘three v one’ pass dropped on the ‘22’ , if taken ,would have given Percy Park momentum. Failure to take those chances proved pivotal as our team appeared to fold and give the day to our opponents”. And there we have it sports fans a horrible result…but don’t press the panic button just yet!!
And to leave you with a real positive note...our Third team won 82-0...with Lome Fa'atau at the helm our younger players are being blessed from learning from 'one of the best!'