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Ground move on agenda for Park
12:46pm Monday 15th October 2012 in Sport
Darlington Mowden Park are pressing ahead with their plan to move to the town’s former football stadium, despite a couple of hitches.
The ambitious scheme still hinges on agreeing a price for 20 acres of council-owned farmland adjacent to the arena. The two sides’ initial valuations were some way apart.
There has also been a leak inside the arena during heavy rain, causing some damage, but it is expected that the current owners will rectify that.
Meanwhile, Mowden continue to make impressive progress on the pitch, climbing to third in National Two North with a 36-17 home win against Stockport.
The five successive wins have been against the bottom five teams, so things will start to get a little tougher with tomorrow’s visit to Bromsgrove.
Darlington, rooted at the foot of North One East, are away to mid-table Pocklington and must be starting to wonder where their first win is coming from after a 40-7 home defeat by Morpeth.
Mowden’s embarrassment of riches was partly eased by Will McCauley being required to look after the Yarm School team, while Tom Schofield had university commitments and centre Chris Peace was ruled out by a chest infection.
But the decision to hand a debut to winger Lewis Johnson, newly-signed from Westoe, still meant that Shaun McCartney had to be left on the bench.
Leading points scorer Tom Hodgson was also named among the replacements again, but returned at fly half in the reshuffle caused by Peace’s illness.
McCauley’s absence allowed ex-Middlesbrough flanker Rory Duff to start at blind side and he turned in a man of the match performance as Mowden passed a good examination up front.
They led only 12-10 early in the second half, but once they had subdued a combative Stockport pack pace made the difference in another entertaining display.
Unlike their visitors, Mowden had the ability to strike from deep through the pace and elusiveness of scrum half Zylon McGaffin, centre Cameron Mitchell and Duff.
Defensively, they owed much to the fearlessly combative Luke Wishnowsky, while Hodgson did more than his share of tackling.
The two tries which earned a 12-7 interval lead resulted from winger Chris McTurk and centre Grant Connon squeezing in at the right corner.
But the three which decided the match resulted from long-range attacks.
McTurk’s opening try was well converted by Hodgson, but Stockport dominated the next 15 minutes and drew level.
A break down the middle by Connon got Mowden back on the front foot and after the sin-binning of the Stockport hooker they regained the lead when a burst by Mitchell set up Connon’s try.
Back up to full-strength, the visitors started the second half strongly and after a powerful line-out drive they kicked a penalty to make it 12-10.
It looked like being a tight game, but two converted tries in five minutes settled it. First No 8 Danny Dixon put McGaffin away from a scrum on halfway and the move ended with skipper Junior Fagalilo crashing over.
Then Mitchell and McTurk combined in a highspeed attack up the right before the ball came back inside for Wishnowsky to send Hodgson almost to the line. The ever-present Duff was on hand to finish.
Stockport charged down an attempted clearance to score a converted try, but their next attack broke down and they were penalised, allowing McGaffin to break out. Mowden were awarded a penalty under the posts and Hodgson obliged.
He also landed his fourth conversion out of five when Mitchell raced over for the final try after Duff made most of the running in an attack which began in their own half.
Darlington’s woes continued as they suffered the usual late cry-offs before the defeat by Morpeth. In losing all their first six games they have already conceded 366 points.
Assistant coach Sean Richardson is still not fit to play and the expectation that Tom Wilkinson would be available to bolster the pack proved premature.
Having conceded 70 points or more in each of the previous three games, the performance was a slight improvement and Darlington trailed only 10- 0 at half-time.
But Morpeth scored three tries through the backs midway through the second half and two more in the last two minutes.
The only reply came from Richard Snowball, converted by Mark Baldwin.