DARLINGTON Mowden Park blooded yet another young back row man on Saturday, when Anthony Harrison took the sponsors’ man of the match award in the 52-7 home win against Hull.
Harrison played in the Barnard Castle School team with No 8 Guy Van Den Dries and was drafted in following injuries to Jack Allcock and Liam Riley, although the former should be fit in two weeks.
Mowden continue to make light of their injuries. Full back Henry Robinson, scorer of 14 tries in the first 12 games, will be out for another month but his replacement, Max Connon, touched down twice on Saturday.
He also took over the goal-kicking after the second try from Tom Hodgson and converted five of the six remaining tries for a personal tally of 20 points.
Connon’s brother, Grant, saw a specialist this week about a knee injury which has been diagnosed as a partial ligament tear.
It is hoped an operation will not be needed.
In his absence, Mowden can still choose between Hodgson and Gavin Painter at fly half and handed the former a start against Hull in a game watched by a crowd of 1,026.
The fans were rewarded with a brilliant first half performance, which earned a 33- 0 half-time lead as Mowden cut Macclesfield’s lead at the top of National Two North to two points.
The leaders survived a huge fright at home to second bottom Sheffield Tigers, failing to claim the four-try bonus point in a 21-20 win.
After a week off, Mowden resume away to third-bottom Bromsgrove on January 4 and should not be stretched in January as they also visit bottom club Dudley Kingswinford. The home game against Harrogate on January 11 should attract another good crowd.
March will be the key as they start by entertaining Sedgley Park, who are unbeaten since early October, and have to visit Chester and Stourbridge.
After topping 50 points for the second successive week, Mowden are the division’s leading scorers with 655 points from 16 games.
Saturday’s only blemish came with the red card issued to replacement prop Josh Bayford two minutes after his introduction in the second half. He was singled out following a flare-up, apparently on the basis of foul play spotted by an assistant referee. Connon opened the scoring after seven minutes following a blind side break by scrum half A J Smith, who was again in fine form. Lock Talite Vaioleti took the ball on before centre Callum Mackenzie and winger Shaun McCartney also made ground for Connon to finish it off.
From the restart a smart pass found lock Pierce Phillips, who surged away to score, and the next two tries came from props Henry Sandys and Ralph Appleby. A series of pick and drives ended with Smith sending Sandys over, and Appleby scored from a catchand- drive.
Just before half-time a rare Hull attack broke down and Hodgson broke out of defence, supported by flanker Rory Duff, who made good ground before offloading for winger Chris McTurk to race over.
Replacement hooker Ross Doneghan stripped the ball from an opponent to set up an attack which ended with Smith racing round from 25 metres to score under the posts.
Hull scored a good converted try before Mowden rounded things off with two late tries. Connon’s second stemmed from a break by Smith, and finally Van Den Dries had his reward for a hard-working display.
Darlington lost their friendly against a strong Yarm School Old Boys team 50-5 and will need to regroup over the festive period as they face two key games on the resumption.
Next week they visit Guisborough, who are two points below them in Durham and Northumberland One, and the following week they are at home to leaders Horden.
As Northallerton had no first team game, they fielded three players from the senior squad for their second team fixture at home to Richmondshire and won 41-19.
All were either returning from injury or short of match practice, including Ed Bulman, who scored a hat-trick in his first appearance of the season.
Richmond held their own in the first half, before North’s larger squad prevailed, with all Bulman’s tries involving good handling from his supporting backs.
Andy Clarke also showed his versatility, changing from his usual position of hooker to inside centre and scoring a fine try following a couple of audacious dummies.
Winger Adam Massey continued his good run of form with an opportunist try, the others coming from Chris Macaneany and Rob Atkinson.
Iain Townsend converted three of the seven tries in only his second game of the season.
Bulman just edged out James Baker.for the man of the match award.
The third team travelled to play Stocktonians with the bare 15 and were on the wrong end of an unflattering 38-10 scoreline. North trailed 12-10 at half-time, but during the second half the home team brought on half a dozen replacements, who made all the difference.
North’s tries came from Charlie Turner, and a breakaway 50-yard try from man of the match, Peter Barraclough.
The first team return to action at home to Castleford on January 4, when the seconds are away to Darlington Bulls and the thirds are scheduled to visit Seaton Carew.
Tomorrow, North are hoping play an inter-club game of under 30s verses over 30s with a 2.15pm kick off. All current and past players are invited to make an appearance.