York 1st XV v Driffield
By Ian Coe
A very difficult season finishes on a high with a hard fought win. Report from Simon Pickles and Photos by Rob Long.
York began their North East One season in September at Driffield and the season ended with Driffield being welcomed to Clifton Park. Promotion prospects and relegation fears affected neither mid-table team as they began building for next season. The York team featured some promising rookies graduating from the youth section alongside experienced players who have committed many years to the club. Freddie Potrykus started in the front-row with Evan Woodworth and Dan Coe. Oscar Bell joined Lewis Hannibal and Shane Goulding in the back-row, Sam Elliot and Rob Hodges were the two wings with George Davies at fullback.
Driffield brought with them a good number of supporters who braved a deceptively biting cold wind. The prevailing breeze benefited York in the first half and they took the lead when scrum-half Toby Atkin reliably sneaked over after a disrupted scrum. Toby continued to make positive metres around the edges of rucks and these forays set up a penalty kick attempt for Liam Hessay (fly-half). Liam struck this penalty (and the conversion) well but missed both difficult kicks. 5-0 to York.With minimal recent rain the pitch was firm, good for running but making tackling and close-contact rugby more brittle. Oscar Bell was frequently involved in the tight battle, he shows leadership on the pitch to go along with the work-rate, bravery and technical ability required for a seven. Eddie Westaby rotated in to the York front-row.
Playing in their clean blue and white, Driffield were happy to give the ball some air and after a quickly taken penalty their Italian tight-head, Alessandro Zavetti, was too powerful to stop at full speed. He went over besides the posts and James Watts (fullback) kicked the conversion. 5-7 to Driffield.Luke Stockton (second-row) was hitting the rucks hard for York which is an important impact role. Away from the ruck, Liam Hessay was passing the ball well off his right hand as well as his naturally stronger left. With this threat in mind, he dummied his pass after Driffield had committed to defending a driving maul deep in their territory. Liam then stepped through the defence and scored close to the posts. He converted his own try to give York a half-time lead of 12-10.
George Davies ranged in space for fifty metres before he combined with Sam Elliot to increase York’s lead a couple of minutes in to the second-half. Liam got this conversion with a nice kick. Toby was distributing the ball soundly and the York backs had plenty of space. Isikeli Mulase came in at twelve with Sam Forbes one wider at thirteen. The Driffield backs had space of their own though. After taking consecutive tap penalties and nearly pushing it over, the ball was passed through hands to Ed Farnsworth who scored in the corner. The conversion was missed but James Watts had another opportunity a few minutes later. Driffield ten, Ryan Murray, kicked deftly over an onrushing York defence and the single bounce favoured their centre, John Soanes who ran in. James got the conversion to level the scores at 19-19. Driffield took the lead with only five minutes to go as James Watts kicked a penalty to put them three ahead. Chris Fox (York second-row) collected the re-start though to set up the York attack. York were awarded a penalty, they eschewed the draw and chose the scrum. After several phases on the Driffield goal line, Toby Atkin passed long from the base of a ruck. He missed two deeper runners and found the impressive Sam Elliot who scored the winning try. York 24 Driffield 22.
A season disrupted by injury, several very serious, ends on a good note and 6th in the league.