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Town prepares to stage first international game
3:26pm Friday 30th November 2012 in Rugby
DARLINGTON are to stage the town’s first international rugby match on March 3, when England Under 18s will play Scotland at Blackwell Meadows.
Following Sunday’s Northern Women’s Festival, which will involve nearly 450 players, it bears further testimony to the town’s growing prominence on the rugby map.
Mowden Park are also likely to be in the running to stage big games once they move to the Arena.
Darlington chairman Mike Wilkinson said: “Representatives from Twickenham came to do a site survey and were very complimentary about our facilities and hospitality.
“The international will bring good business for the club and the town, and it’s a pleasing reward for the work we are doing and the refurbishment of the clubhouse.”
Darlington recorded their first win of the season when they won 22-18 at home to Durham City – the team just above them at the foot of North One East.
There was a surprising setback for Mowden when they missed the chance to move up to second in National Two North, losing 15-13 at Hull.
Tom Hodgson’s conversion attempt with the last kick of a dour game would have levelled the scores had it not hit a post.
It’s a blank day in the rugby calendar tomorrow, although several Mowden players will be appearing in the Dubai Sevens.
On their return they will face a tough couple of weeks which could determine whether Mowden will challenge seriously for the promotion play-off spot. They visit Sheffield Tigers then entertain second-placed Hull Ionians.
The other Hull club clearly set out to stop Mowden scoring on Saturday and never looked like scoring a try themselves.
It was 3-3 at half-time and Mowden did manage two second half tries, from winger Chris McTurk, while all Hull’s points came from penalties.
McTurk went close just before the break when he chased a Grant Connon kick and dribbled on, only for the ball to run through the short dead ball area.
There was room for both Connon and Hodgson in the starting line-up because centre Chris Peace was injured.
Hodgson was preferred as the goal-kicker, but was unable to land either conversion with McTurk’s first try being scored in the corner after Hull had stretched away to lead 9-3. Two more Hull penalties made it 15-8 before Mowden battered their hosts in the last five minutes. McTurk finally scored ten metres left of the posts, but the woodwork prevented Mowden from coming away with more than the one losing bonus point.
They had played in good conditions, but the match at Blackwell Meadows took place in fog, which wasn’t quite thick enough to obscure the many errors and infringements.
After 11 straight defeats, Darlington were determined not to lose this one as they raised the spirit to fight back after allowing a 15-3 lead to become an 18-15 deficit.
Suddenly there was some purpose in their play and the excellent build-up to the winning try begged the question: why couldn’t they do it more often?
After City made a mess of dealing with the kick-off it took Darlington only a minute to score a catch-and-drive try through flanker Jon Guy.
They then conceded a succession of penalties and City made it 5-3 before Darlington’s second try also came through their more powerful forwards. They won a scrum in the right corner and recycled it across the field before an inside pass sent prop Joe Oselton under the posts.
Skipper Mark Baldwin, having to play at fly half rather than scrum half, converted and added a simple penalty following a promising attack in which centre Dan Carter was injured.
Having forged ahead, Darlington allowed City back into the game and in the ten minutes either side of half-time they scored two tries. The second came from a simple move on the short side of a scrum, sending the right winger over.
The momentum was now with City and a powerful break by centre Harry Hodell created the chance for Arnie Stevenson to put them ahead with a penalty.
Darlington’s response was impressive. They finally gave full back Connor Esler some space to race to the 22, then Richard Snowball drove on before centre Henry Carver took a pass on the burst to go under the posts.
The Darlington forwards ensured they hung on to move back into positive territory after starting the match on minus three points.
Northallerton recorded a rare away win when they defied foggy and boggy conditions to win 12-10 at Old Modernians.
Travelling at near full strength, North started strongly and the forwards were soon on top. Full back Andy Scotsman finished a well-worked move, outpacing the covering defence to score in the corner.
Joe Terry’s conversion proved the difference at halftime as Old Mods kept the ball away from the North forwards and scored an unconverted.
In the second half the North pack regaining the upper hand with excellent work from the second row pairing of Jim Duggleby and Martin Dennison in the line-out, leading to the second try. They won the ball on the 22 and drove over.
In a tense finish Old Mods cut the gap to two points with a try very similar to their first, using their full back line to out-flank the North defence.
He scored by the posts, but the conversion failed.
The seconds lost 14-12 at home to Yarnbury thirds, also in foggy conditions, despite a valiant display against a stronger team.
The visitors camped in the North 22 for almost 20 minutes but excellent defence kept them out. When North went down to 14 men due to the sin binning of Jon Harker for holding on they were spurred into action and spent the next then minutes in the opposition’s 22.
Hooker Paul Dennison broke two tackles to score his first try of the season, converted by Gareth Essex for a 7-0 half-time lead.
The second half saw North starting with the same confidence and Dave Lawrence was held up over the line. From the resulting scrum, North were awarded a penalty and after a kick to the corner they drove the line-out for John Logan to score.
Yarnbury stepped up their game, forcing North to conceded penalties, three of which were kicked to make it 12-9. The visitors continued to press and created an overlap for a simple late try.
England Women, led by Darlington Mowden Sharks’ Katy McLean, came from 13-3 down to beat world champions New Zealand 16-13 at Esher.
McLean kicked a penalty and the team also included former Mowden lock Tamara Taylor.
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