LAST season’s leading try scorer, Chris McTurk, proved he is back to his best after an injury when he scored a hat-trick as Darlington Mowden Park won 29-15 win at Bromsgrove on Saturday.
The winger missed the first two months of the season but his return has helped to compensate for the absence of two other prolific scorers, Henry Robinson and Tom Kill.
No 8 Guy Van Den Dries and full back Max Connon also touched down and the four-try bonus saw Mowden edge four points clear of third-placed Stourbridge in National Two North ahead of tomorrow’s visit of mid-table Harrogate.
Despite the heavy conditions, the commitment from both sides produced an entertaining game, in which Mowden fell behind to a first-minute penalty then quickly forged ahead through two converted tries.
McTurk’s trademark chip and chase saw him score in the corner then, after a series of pick and drives, van den Dries forced his way over.
Fly half Gavin Painter landed both conversions from wide out and after a number of powerful runs from centre Callum Mackenize the third try arrived when McTurk supported a break on his opposite wing to score.
Bromsgrove scored a converted try from a line-out just before half-time to cut the gap to 19-10, but after ten minutes of stalemate on the resumption Connon shot through a gap to score.
Bromsgrove came back with a try through their forwards, but their hopes of a bonus point were dashed when McTurk dodged into the corner.
Darlington need to win at home to Durham and Northumberland One leaders Horden tomorrow after slipping from second to fifth when they lost 20-17 at Guisborough.
Horden are five points clear, but only two points cover separate the next four so it promises to be an interesting second half of the season.
Guisborough dominated possession on a heavy pitch and hit straight back after a Mark Baldwin penalty gave Darlington the lead. The hosts scored a converted try and penalty, but on the stroke of half-time Baldwin levelled the scores by nipping over from a five-metre scrum and converting.
Two tries midway through the second half proved decisive for Guisborough and although Darlington dominated the last ten minutes and drove lock Joe Oselton over for a converted try it earned them just the one bonus point.
After last season’s promotion, depleted Bishop Auckland have slipped into the bottom two following a 13-0 defeat at Stockton.
Winger Danny Phinn scored both Stockton’s tries, finishing a good handling move in the first half to squeeze over in the corner. Good work by the pack followed by a clever chip from fly half Jeremy Good set up the second and Good added a penalty.
Northallerton put in a valiant effort before losing 25-19 at home to Castleford, who are second in Yorkshire Three.
A couple of last-minute cryoffs left the coach frantically looking for replacements as the named reserves proved to be unavailable.
Veteran Ed Bulman and Adam Massey, who was not fully fit, filled the void and North started strongly, with Bulman to the fore.
They used their larger forwards to draw defenders in before releasing pacy backs Dan Luck and Marc Waldon.
North took the lead through flanker Tom Young after 15 minutes following a line-out steal from Lee Peake.
Soon afterwards Bulman spotted that the opposing full back had gone walkabout and kicked through into a large empty space. He re-gathered to score between the posts and Greg Aspins conversion gave North a 12-0 lead after 15 minutes.
Castleford started to get into the game and proved to be one of the few teams in this league to master North in the scrum. Without clean ball, North were unable to clear their lines.
Castleford got their reward with two quick tries to level the scores after 40 minutes.
In the second half, North gave a first outing to new player Jamie Frazier, who is an exsemi pro basketball player. He looked very good in spells, outmuscling a couple of players, but in need of match practice in the loose.
Despite this and the introduction of Massey, North were still struggling to put any flowing rugby together. Castleford went ahead through a longrange penalty, but North reasserted themselves and pressed for five minutes before Dougie Mulholland attempted a 20-metre looping pass, which was intercepted by the visiting full back, who raced the length of the pitch to score.
Now ten points behind, North started to lose their composure and another penalty widened the gap. It was reduced two minutes from the end by a brilliant opportunistic try from scrum half Patrick Hebblethwaite.
He beat his opposite man be selling an outrageous dummy and raced away to score.
Aspin’s conversion earned a bonus point.
North travel to Rotherham Phoenix tomorrow, while the seconds will be at Billingham after continuing their good form with a 12-15 win away to Darlington Bulls.
North seemed disjointed in the first half and trailed 12-3 with only a Tom Rennison penalty registering.
In the second half they upped their game and were rewarded with tries by utility forwards Martin Chuckles and Chris Macaneany, who had another fine game. Rennison added a conversion. Man of the match for the third game on the trot was awarded to Chris Hustler.