Darlington bidding to break their duck

Darlington and Stockton Times: DRIVING FORCE: Middlesbrough’s Matty John, red shirt, is tackled by Durham’s Peter Dent at Acklam Park last weekend DRIVING FORCE: Middlesbrough’s Matty John, red shirt, is tackled by Durham’s Peter Dent at Acklam Park last weekend

DARLINGTON will go into tomorrow’s home game against Durham City on minus three points knowing they will not get a better chance to break their duck this season.

City are one place above them at the foot of North One East and are expected to follow their hosts in having five points deducted for fielding a player who had not been properly registered.

In Darlington’s case the player in question was one of their Catterick-based Fijians, who hasn’t been seen for several weeks.

“We had a disagreement with the registrar and appealed against the ruling,”said secretary Tony Stowe.

“We told them we hadn’t received their notification that there might be something wrong until after the game. But it made no difference.”

Darlington led 8-0 at Cleckheaton last Saturday, but lost 45-15, making it 11 straight defeats, from which they have picked up two bonus points.

City won their first game but have lost the ten since, including a 94-7 hammering at Morley two weeks ago.

While City have struggled for front row men, Darlington have been unable to get all their best players on the pitch together. After missing the first two months through work, No 8 Tom Wilkinson was due to play last week but fell ill.

A try by hooker Rob Goddard and a penalty by Mark Baldwin gave Darlington their early lead. They were muchimproved for the first half hour but then fell apart, not helped by two interception tries. It became 45-8 after 70 minutes, but they stuck at it and Goddard scored again.

Darlington Mowden Park had to make six changes for the visit of Leicester Lions but still won 29-6.

Mowden visit Hull tomorrow and will have half an eye on their hosts’ neighbours, second-placed Hull Ionians, who are away to unbeaten leaders Stourbridge.

If everything goes their way Mowden could move up to joint second and they will hope to be able to recall flanker Luke Wishnowsky and fly half Grant Connon. Both were rested last week after taking heavy knocks in the defeat at Stourbridge, while Andy Wilson and Ralph Appleby were considered fit enough only for bench duties. Scrum half Zylon McGaffin was unavailable and winger Lewis Johnson was injured.

All the replacements have been regular squad members apart from Jack Neville, who starred on the wing in the opening home game before going off to Cardiff University.

As he is available for several weeks he was selected in his primary position of scrum half, alongside Connon’s replacement, Tom Hodgson.

As usual, Mowden’s ability to attack from deep was crucial as both first half tries came from around halfway.

First full back Max Connon fielded a clearance before McCartney beat two men and Cameron Mitchell sent winger Chris McTurk racing over.

A forward battle ensued but when the visiting pack were getting slightly on top they moved the ball out with a second row in the line.

He missed a pass and Hodgson scooped it up on the half volley to race away.

He was tap tackled just short but his momentum took him over and he added his second conversion, plus a penalty, for a 17-6 interval lead.

Neville made good ground from a quickly-taken penalty to send McTurk over for his second try, and despite losing prop Dan Miller with a calf injury and replacement Ralph Appleby to the sin bin Mowden secured the four-try bonus point near the end.

Danny Dixon, who had switched from No 8 to prop, claimed the try after lock Chris Campbell won a line-out and was driven to the line.

Northallerton lost 16-3 at home to Baildon and are now third from the bottom of Yorkshire Three, although well clear of the two below them.

North started slowly and conceded a penalty after five minutes, which seemed to spur them on and they were soon level through a Dan Luck penalty.

North dominated the rest of the first half but the score remained 3-3 at half-time and although they remained on top for a while it was to no avail.

Baildon eventually showed why they are in the top three, going on to score two tries and a penalty.

North’s defence and set piece work was more than a match for the visitors for most of the game with back row youngster Jack Kitchen improving with every game.

The seconds travelled to West Park Leeds and lost 74- 12 with a young and inexperienced side, who were no match for well-drilled opponents.

There were good performances from Dave Lawrence and Ben Merritt, who scored a try apiece with a conversion coming from Jason Bellian.

g Darlington are expecting about 450 women and girls to be involved in a Northern Counties Festival at Blackwell Meadows on Sunday, December 2.

The event, which starts at 10.45, is a vital part of the England Player Pathway and offers those involved a last chance to impress the regional coaches and press their claims for places in the Divisional trials, in January.

All six Northern Counties – Cheshire, Lancashire, Cumbria, Northumberland, Durham and Yorkshire – will be represented at Under 15, Under 18 and senior levels for the first time, with Mowden Sharks’England Under 20 contingent of Abbie Scott, Rachel Roberts and Amy Needham expected to attend. The Shark’s Ruth Laybourn recently scored for England Women against France.

During the 2011/12 season, 13,645 women and girls were registered to play rugby in England, which shows that since records began in 2004/05, the women’s game has grown by 87 per cent.

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