Old Brodleians 26 Driffield 39
Brods’ anxiety near the foot of Yorkshire One increased when they took just a four-try bonus point from their meeting with the leaders and the two sides below them, Barnsley and Knottingley, both won.
A second successive relegation is the last thing the Woodhead men need and coach John Cole is optimistic it will not come to that, his side producing what was a heartening display in many ways.
The forwards more than matched their larger, more experienced Driffield counterparts with prop Callum Thompson and back rowers Rob Jennings and Andy Finn to the fore.
There looked some better combinations in a continually changing back division but, as in the last home game against second-placed Huddersfield YMCA four weeks earlier, Brods were flimsy in defence against a side which counter-attacked with speed and good support play.
On a bright, cool but thankfully dry day, Brods produced an excellent first 20 minutes down the slope on their return to action following two postponements.
They were encouraged by a third-minute try from No 8 Jennings, who crossed from close range wide out following Dan Wood’s penalty to touch and a lineout catch and drive.
Wood’s conversion hit the post, then the bar and bounced out at the start of a spell which could have yielded two of three more tries for the home side.
The enthusiastic home forwards had the bit between their teeth and Driffield were rattled, losing lock Andrew Turton to the sin bin as they defended desperately.
Having a man advantage led to Brods turning down a good penalty opportunity in the quest for richer pickings.
On three occasions they got the ball to the try line but were unable to get it down, notably when hard-working skipper Kyle Millward dropped it.
Having had virtually all of the play, Brods were undone on 26 minutes when they dropped the ball just inside the Driffield half and the visitors hacked forward and centre Robin Kitching touched down wide on the left.
Kitching was unable to convert and was short with a very ambitious penalty attempt shortly after but the tide was turning and the table toppers showed their strike power by adding three more tries in 14 minutes to take a commanding 22-5 lead.
Hooker Simon Pettinger took an inside pass to reach over the line for Driffield’s second; Lester Bell sped in wide on the right after Wood’s clearance had landed Brods in trouble; and centre Tom Wright brushed aside some half-hearted tackles to score at the side of the posts, Kitching adding his first goal.
Brods looked out for the count but in a fluctuating contest they scored two converted tries in four minutes in the third quarter to get back to 19-22.
Wood’s fine penalty to touch and more high-quality lineout ball from the James Ogden-Millward combination led to lock Lee Scrimshaw charging over.
Even better was to come when Jennings galloped upfield with Finn in support and Ryan Harris rounded off an excellent effort from the back row.
Kitching’s straight 35 metre penalty on 56 minutes settled Driffield’s nerves and pressure from the visitors resulted in fullback Josh Pratt weaving past two defenders for a converted try to put 13 points between the teams.
Brods got back into losing bonus point territory when Thompson was rewarded for his efforts with a try converted by Wood to the left of the posts on 72 minutes.
Driffield were again down to 14 men at this stage, with No 8 Chris Chapman in the bin, but the made the game safe with a sixth try in added time.
Brods again showed their inexperienced. They attempted a fancy crossing move in front of their own posts with inevitable consequences. The ball went to ground and flanker Rob Hamilton strolled in at the side of the posts from the subsequent scrum, Kitching converting.