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Withernsea’s away day blues lifted

AFTER A five-week gap due to World Cup commitments and games cancelled through flooded pitches, Withernsea returned to league action last weekend with a visit to Driffield. With most of the front row missing and a couple more key players unavailable, it would be a team that took the field with some unfamiliar faces in it.

Withernsea started well against a Driffield side with plenty of youth in their ranks. Mike Penny was the first on the scoreboard as he imposed his physical presence on the Driffield backs, combined with the pace to make the most of a break that he had crafted for himself. Next, he turned provider with another break before passing inside to Dan Wardman, who had cleverly taken an inside line to turn the Driffield full-back.

Driffield now enjoyed a good spell of possession and a fair amount of luck from the referee to get back into the game. Two not straight lineout’s and one knock-on later and Driffield where near Withernsea’s line with the ball set up in a maul. Driffield showed their experience of playing rugby from a young age to give the visitors a masterclass in rolling mauling to score a try to bring the score back to within a try.

Withernsea bounced back with more exciting back play, based on a platform of some excellent driving forward runs, which were tying in the home team’s back row. Following quick ball, Rob Hird set the backs moving and both centres showed good hands to get the ball wide to Sam Outing who was on the overlap from full-back. Sam beat the first defender, but then looked held up until he lunged forward to reach the line for Withernsea’s third try and he had given them a 17-7 half-time lead.

Driffield started the second half in determined fashion, depriving the visitors of any possession. Driffield spent a vast amount of time in Withernsea’s 22-metre area and had one spell where they were camped within a couple of metres of the try line for what felt like a lifetime.

Withernsea’s forwards bravely resisted drive after drive by the Driffield pack, putting their bodies on the line, led by solid tackling from Tweedy, Jack Freer, Mike Tomes and Andy Coggin, a late draft in from the dark side.

After weathering this storm, Withernsea showed their class with a swift counter-attack. Ethan Wilson, in the unusual position at scrumhalf set Mike Penny on the move from deep in defence.

Mike destroyed the Driffield defence and went 60 metres before cutting left and finding Rob Hird with a long pass, who ghosted past the remaining defenders for an excellent try. Driffield responded almost straight away with a try that came more from Withernsea’s generosity than their own creativity. As the visitors tried to exit their 22, one loose ball was pounced on by the home team to bring the score back to 12-24.

The last 20 minutes saw Withernsea take control. Withernsea’s backs were now fluent and a line ball through quick hands ended up with Dan Wardman, who beat the first man and used his strength to keep going to score from 60 metres out.

The icing on the cake came from Mike Penny, who capped off an excellent individual performance with a superb long-distance try, which showed that he had too much power and pace for the tractor boys.

A great win, which ended up being quite comfortable, but was only earned through some hard work in defence and an excellent team spirit. This win, combined with a series of bizarre results across the league in recent weeks, puts Withernsea on top of the league (see table), if you count teams that have played five games or more. Remember it is a merit table, so positions are worked out on points earned, divided by games played. Two home games to come will hopefully help Withernsea consolidate this position at the top of the table.

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