Huddersfield YMCA 12

Driffield 16

(Yorkshire I)

YMCA were knocked off their perch at the top of Yorkshire I for the first time this season after losing their second crunch game in succession, to be replaced by Saturday’s conquerors, Driffield.

There was very little to choose between the sides, both scoring two tries. But in the end the difference probably came down to the visitors having the sheer bulk, more experience, better discipline and ultimately the greater nous.

A bitterly cold Laund Hill day was made far worse by the descent of heavy mist which made much of the second half action indiscernible from the touchline and at one point was so bad, there must have been the chance of an abandonment before full time.

And that would have worked in YM’s favour, as the first time they conceded the lead in the entire game was 10 minutes from the end!

The early indications showed that YM were more than equal to their bulkier counterparts and after a missed long-range penalty from Gavin Stead, they surprised most people with a fabulous forward drive to get the first try.

From a line-out catch almost 20m short of the try-line, YM’s forward produced a monumental shove, driving the big Driffield pack backwards until they crossed the whitewash and Mark Whitehead was there to claim the score.

Stead added the conversion and spirits were high among the home contingent.

Jordan McGregor missed a penalty for the visitors, while the other significant moment of the half was when try-scorer Whitehead was yellow carded.

But despite being down to 14 and under increasing pressure, YM dug deep and kept Driffield out.

Both sides were very guilty of losing a lot of possession, whether down to cold hands and a slippery ball, or just over-eagerness, and Driffield coughed up almost a certain try shortly after the re-start.

With a score looking increasingly likely for the visitors, YM suddenly broke out, thanks to a great kick from fly-half Damian Clayton, and from another catch and drive, there again was Whitehead to touch down following another massive effort from the pack.

Stead sliced the conversion, but YM now had the cushion of 12-0 lead. It wasn’t to last long, however, as Tom Sharrock left the field with an ankle injury, and suddenly YM lost their solidity in the set-piece, losing two scrums against the head in succession, the second of which paved the way for winger Lester Bell to go over in the right-hand corner.

A Rob Kitching penalty on 63 minutes reduced the gap to 12-8, and with just 10 minutes left on the clock, the bruising figure of Chris Chapman burst through the gloom to score the crucial try to put Driffield ahead for the first time. 13-12.

And although Kitching missed the conversion, he did add a late penalty awarded for dissent.

YM had one final chance to regain the initiative when Ed Barber and Adam Ryder for once combined to put them in an attacking position.

But after Driffield pulled the scrum down and kicked the ball away, to concede a penalty, YM chose to go for another catch and drive – but this time didn’t even take the ball from the line-out, and the game was up.

YMCA: Johnson; Bullock, Ryder, Barber, Stead; Clayton, Wilson; Ste Dyke, Hill, Wrafter, Stu Dyke, Bell, Sharrock, Hodge, Whitehead. Inter-change: Lumb, Neilly.

Referee: Simon Parke (Yorkshire).