Mowden Park aiming for a Westoe double

STALEMATE: David Dowson and Chris Mason in Wednesday’s 0-0 draw between Darlington and Spennymoor

STALEMATE: David Dowson and Chris Mason in Wednesday’s 0-0 draw between Darlington and Spennymoor

First published in Sport

DARLINGTON Mowden Park will be desperate to complete the double over Westoe when they visit the South Shields club tomorrow.

Last Saturday’s battle for second place in National Two North, at home to Hull Ionians, was postponed until February 9 because of a waterlogged pitch.

Mowden won their home game against Westoe 21-7 in September, and although the Shieldsmen have improved since losing their first eight games they lost 52-5 away to unbeaten leaders Stourbridge last week.

Andy Howells, who took several players with him when he quit as Mowden coach four years ago, is now back at Westoe.

Tom Hodgson and Shaun McCartney, who would have been on the bench for the first team but have had little game time recently, went with the seconds to West Hartlepool, where they won 66-0.

The team also included three overseas triallists in Croatia captain Tonci Buzov, Hungary prop Tamas Szabo and 19-year-old lock Blair Rush, son of the former All Blacks winger Eric Rush.

Buzov was man of the match at No 8, and although he has gone home for Christmas Mowden might consider bringing him back.

Full back Richie Young, who began the season in the first team, scored two tries, as did McCartney, fellow winger James Park and powerful centre Craig Dominic.

Hodgson kicked seven conversions and also scored a try, while his half back partner Josh Waldin also touched down. Tom Schofield landed the final conversion after Hodgson had retired.

Darlington’s hopes that a third successive win would lift their hopes of getting out of the bottom two in North One East were dashed by a 21-15 defeat at Keighley after leading 15-9 at half-time.

Although Owen Waldin was back from university to play at fly half, key man Richard Snowball was unavailable and back row player Shane O’- Dowling-Keane had to work so Callum Ferrand made his debut at blind side.

Prop Joe Oselton scored a catch-and-drive try then centre Henry Carver finished off a move by going under the posts.

Mark Baldwin converted and added a penalty, but on a heavy pitch Darlington were ground down in the second half.

They have no league game for the next two weeks, but entertain Yarm School Old Boys this Sunday (3pm) in a repeat of last year’s inaugural clash. Current Darlington players Joe Hargreaves, Michael Stowe, Tom Wilkinson and Matthew Sowerby are Yarm products, as are ex-players Adam Kibirige, Andrew Pugh, Charlie Catterall and James Knox, who is now with Mowden but hasn’t played this season because of injury.

Northallerton won 6-5 at home to Burley and although they remain third from the bottom of Yorkshire Three they are 19 points ahead of the bottom two.

There were few clear-cut scoring opportunities, but for once North gave away only a handful of penalties and received no yellow cards.

In a very scrappy opening 20 minutes Doug Mullholland’s attempted drop goal brought some merriment as it flew so far wide it went into touch.

North began to exert pressure after 30 minutes with Matthew Cornforth leading from the front. He was returning after a five-year break from Northallerton rugby to pursue a career elsewhere.

He was prominent throughout and just before half-time he and Jack Kitching combined well in midfield to disrupt the opposition. It resulted in a penalty, which Dan Luck easily converted.

North started the second half well with some strong running from backs Matt Brown, John Harker and especially Marc Waldon, which put Burley under immense pressure.

Luck narrowly missed one penalty before landing one after 55 minutes.

This roused the Burley players and, with North starting to tire, the game suddenly became more open.

Just after the hour Burley had a line-out deep into North territory and drove over for a try.

The conversion fell short and although Burley pressed for the winning score lastditch tackling from Ed Bulman and Don Stone prevented two certain tries.

This, combined with Jonny Franks organising the backs’ defence, kept the visitors out for a hard-earned victory.

North return to league action on January 5 at Goole.

The seconds named one of their strongest squads of the season for the home game against Ripon thirds, who withdrew on Friday.

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