WHILE Mowden Park maintained their promotion push on Saturday, Darlington’s effectively ended when they lost 23-17 at home to Consett.
Mowden won 15-9 at Chester and remain in a very tight three-horse race with Macclesfield and Stourbridge for the one automatic promotion place and one play-off spot in National Two North.
For Darlington it was their first home defeat of the season but seventh in all and underlined that any aspirations of promotion from Durham and Northumberland One are unrealistic.
Club officials are now concentrating on pushing through the groundshare with Darlington FC and will attempt to persuade the members to vote in favour at an extraordinary general meeting on March 24.
Consett were deserved winners, although it didn’t look likely when Darlington romped into an early lead through a converted try finished off by star centre Andy Pugh.
It didn’t take Consett long to demonstrate that they were the equal of their hosts up front and they also showed commendable ambition in their handling, although both sides were prone to coughing up possession.
Consett skipper Nick Cook landed two penalties before Darlington scored again when good handling sent winger Sam Hardy over in the right corner and Nick Baldwin’s excellent conversion made it 14-6.
His effort was matched by Cook, who was on target from the left touchline after winger Jack Clark finished a good move. With only a onepoint deficit after facing the breeze the visitors were favourites.
Baldwin kicked a simple penalty, but Darlington were up against it when they had No 8 Colin Rogers dismissed with 25 minutes left. He was handed his second yellow card for failing to pull out of a tackle on a player who had kicked ahead. The Consett forwards got on top and drove for the line several times before scrambling over for a converted try.
Five minutes later Cook added a 40-metre penalty and there was no way back for Darlington, who have a rearranged home game against bottom club Bishop Auckland tomorrow.
There’s no game for Mowden, who will hope the week’s rest allows some key players to regain fitness before the sixgame run-in starts at home to Leicester Lions next week.
They will also hope to get back to the points sprees they enjoyed on the firmer pitches in early season as they need as many four-try bonus points as possible.
Their watertight defence has kept them afloat recently and they did’t concede a try in overturning a 9-5 interval deficit at Chester. It was their second successive hardearned victory and, as against Sedgley Tigers, it was scrum half Zylon McGaffin who nipped over for the decisive try.
With Talite Vaioleti ruled out by a dislocated shoulder, Mowden handed Rory Duff a final start in the back row before his departure to work and play in Australia.
Two penalties and a drop goal gave Chester a 9-0 lead before Mowden flanker Jack Allcock finished off a catchand- drive try just before halftime.
Solid defence kept Chester out early in the second half and Mowden began to take control in the final quarter.
Another line-out was driven to the line prior to McGaffinâ ™s try, converted by replacement fly half Tom Hodgson, who added a 76th-minute penalty.
Middlesbrough gave themselves a lifeline in North One East when a late try by skipper Rob Bellerby gave them a 27- 24 win at Malton and Norton.
They can climb out of the bottom three when they play their rearranged game at home to Morpeth tomorrow.
Boro, who remain a point behind Malton and two behind Morpeth, scored tries through winger Connor Foley, centre Richard Metcalfe and prop Richard Lonsdale with Matthew Todd adding two conversions and a penalty for a 22-7 lead.
A yellow card for lock Phil Harland proved a turning point and two converted tries plus a penalty put Malton 24- 22 ahead. But with two minutes left the Boro forwards drove on and Bellerby scored in the corner.
Depleted Stockton lost 24-13 at Medicals to remain fourth from the bottom of D & N One. They were 8-0 down before scoring after 20 minutes with their first meaningful attack, when scrum half Brian Thwaites spotted a gap ten metres out and strolled over, Jeremy Good converting.
Penalties were exchanged, making it 11-10 at half-time, but another Good penalty was Stockton’s only reward in the second half and a late try made sure for Medicals.
Northallerton fielded three teams at home for the first time for 15 years on a day when they had more than 60 players to choose from. They won all three games, with the firsts beating Hemsworth 41-5.
After an evenly-fought first half North led only 7-5 through a try for Sam Hopkins converted by Joe Terry. The second half was a stop-start affair with a few niggling injuries on both sides but one really bad one for Hemsworth, which held the game up for ten minutes.
This disrupted the visitors and North ran run away with the game, scoring six tries through Dave Barrett (2), Matt Brown, Rob Barnard, Patrick Hebblethwaite and captain Dougie Mulholland.
The last try was unselfishly set up by 17-year-old Jedd Bainbridge, who was making his home debut after coming on as a substitute after 65 minutes at the same time as his father, Nick.
Northallerton have a cup tie at Halifax tomorrow, while the seconds will be at home to Middlesbrough after beating Wetherby 61-12 in the Yorkshire Silver Trophy last week.