The big Yorkshire One game of the day between Pocklington and Driffield produced an absorbing contest that saw Pocklington dominate the early exchanges, Driffield fight back to be ahead on the hour, then Pocklington finish the stronger to pull away to victory.
After two weeks off due to snow and frost, Feathers Field was bathed in sunshine as the game kicked off. When the sides had last played in October, Driffield had come through as the stronger side to win with something to spare. Everything was set up for another major occasion.
The teams went into the game level on 65 points, just behind the league leaders, Bridlington, and a bumper East Yorkshire derby crowd of 500 ensured plenty of atmosphere. The match action did not disappoint, with some excellent tries, committed defence and tackling, and goal kicking of the highest quality from Pocklington’s Nick Bennett and Driffield’s Rob Kitching.
Despite playing into the stiff diagonal breeze, Yara-sponsored Pocklington were the first to show, with driving forward play setting Bennett up to give them the lead with an angled penalty after just three minutes. Driffield hit straight back as Kitching banged over a snap drop goal with their first brief visit to home territory, but Pocklington pressed again from the restart and Bennett kicked his second goal from an identical position.
Pocklington’s forwards kept them on the front foot and, after the pack had driven a lineout 20 yards, on the quarter-hour the ball came back to stand off Joe Holbrough who wrestled his way over at the side of the posts, Bennett converting. Pocklington looked to be in control as the backs raided down both flanks to take play to within five yards of the visiting line, where another lineout catch and drive brought a try for livewire flanker Jack Holbrough, with Bennett kicking a towering touchline conversion into the wind.
Driffield had hardly had a look in, but they showed how dangerous they could be out wide with their first real attack. They sucked Pock in on the right then moved the ball left to the dangerous Kitching, who ran strongly and fed skipper Wright to score, Kitching converting.
Pocklington were stung into response and, after young centre Jake Bishop had weaved a way forward, both Ben Rees and Dave Birch were tackled a foot short. The opportunity went as Pock were penalised, Driffield cleared upfield and Kitching pulled another three points back with a penalty kick from a yard inside his own half.
Pocklington’s next attack saw a penalty come back off the post and they knocked on the rebound with the way to the line open. Despite having a forward yellow-carded for killing the ball, Driffield took play to the other end and a lineout on the left saw the ball shipped along the line for right wing Furbank to cross in the corner, Kitching’s touchline conversion with the last kick of the half making it 20-20 at the break.
Pocklington had much to contemplate during the interval as they had dominated for long periods but let Driffield off the hook. Nevertheless, it ensured the contest remained full-on as the game restarted with the sides again level.
Driffield’s backs threatened first at the start of the second period before an incisive Pocklington counter attack ended with Driff killing the ball and having a second man binned. But, when Kitching kicked another penalty to put his side ahead for the first time, the momentum seemed to be with Driffield.
Pocklington had to redouble their efforts to take the game to their rivals. Skipper Mat Webber gave a strong lead with voice and deed, setting the standard for committment by having a dislocated finger put back to immediately return to the fray, while Tom Peters lifted the bar for the defensive effort when he lined up a thumping tackle to bring a Driffield raid to a shuddering halt.
Billy Hardy and Birch both burst clear down the left before Driffield relieved the pressure by turning over a scrum and ruck in quick succession. Pocklington came again, and when centre Tim Nixon battered through the middle he was almost over before being dragged down just short. Driffield prevented the release to receive a third yellow, meaning they had played half an hour with 14 men, and Bennett put over the easy penalty to again tie the scores at 23-23.
From the kick off, Pocklington drilled play deep into Driffield territory. Driffield tried to take a quick lineout but home scrum half Benn Rees nipped in to scoop up the ball and race clear to the corner, Bennett adding another touchline conversion with a towering kick.
Pocklington were back in the driving seat. Into the last ten minutes, their pressure forced a five-yard scrum and No 8 Karl Durkin picked up with the wheel to send Rees over unopposed, Bennett converting.
Nixon had a couple more midfield charges and Bennett was surprisingly wide with a straightforward penalty. Driffield tried to rally with a series of quick tap penalties but Pocklington’s determination in the tackle and assurance at the lineout meant that they kept the visitors pinned in their own half to the final whistle and ensured victory by a convincing margin.
Pictures from the game below.