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Struggling Darlington drop down a division
DARLINGTON went from ecstasy to agony on Saturday as their relegation from North One East was confirmed when they were unable to raise a team to play at Morley.
It was hoped the huge success they made of staging last Sunday's Under
18 international would lift club spirits, but they will now face their second points deduction of the season.
"We've gone from a brilliant weekend to a black day," said secretary Tony Stowe. "With Middlesbrough and Keighley both winning, plus the deduction, we are definitely down.
"We had six players working and five injured and we just don't have the strength in depth. We weren't prepared to send a bunch of youngsters to get annihilated.
"The match has been rearranged for next Saturday, but it could still be a problem."
Borrowing a few from neighbours Mowden Park is unlikely to be an option as three of their forwards, Chris Campbell, Guy Van Den Dries and Henry Forbes, are in the North Under 20s trial on Sunday.
There has, however, been some communication between the clubs as Darlington have agreed to stage some of Mowden's second and third team games now that they have moved out of Yiewsley Drive. It is hoped the new pitches being developed alongside The Northern Echo Arena will be ready for next season.
Mowden produced one of their best performances of the season to win 27-0 in wet conditions at Otley, who decided that visiting flanker Charlie Maddison was Man of the Match on his debut.
Mowden's chairman of rugby, Mike Keeligan, said: "We have our own Man of the Match presentation on the bus and we gave it to the whole team.
"Otley have been going well and fancied their chances but we never let them into the game. We also showed good skills and most of the tries came from good support play."
Prop Ralph Appleby went under the posts for the first, then fly half Grant Connon benefited from an Otley mix-up as the ball bounced into his hands and he raced away to score.
It was 12-0 at half-time and when Mowden followed up a big kick they retrieved the ball for centre Lewis Johnson to score.
Connon added his second conversion and a penalty before replacement centre Craig Dominick made a break to set up the bonus point try for Shaun McCartney.
Middlesbrough's 41-5 win at home to Old Crossleyans failed to ease their relegation worries in North One East as the team they need to overhaul, Keighley, enjoyed a shock win at Malton and Norton.
Boro adapted to the wet conditions much better than their visitors with prop Phil Harland being driven over for the first two tries, while scrum half Peter Wright scored twice in the second half. They also benefited from Dave Hinchley ruling the line-out.
Connor Foley, one of three kickers tried, added a conversion and the other winger, Lewis Macsween, scored in the corner for a 17-5 interval lead.
Good handling was finished off by centre Michael Thornburn straight after half-time then Wright nipped round the side of a scrum to score.
Hooker Ben Horton capped a good performance by running 15 metres to go under the posts and Wright grabbed his second from a quickly-taken penalty. Simon O'Farrell converted the last two.
In National One Tynedale's 19-18 defeat at Loughborough dragged them back into the relegation frame. They are only five points ahead of third bottom Macclesfield, who had a shock win at Richmond. Tynedale have home games in the next two weeks against Cambridge and Richmond.
West Hartlepool ended their losing run in National Three North with a
22-15 home win against Penrith. But they remain nine points adrift of safety and only one of their four remaining matches is at home. Their final game is away to Birkenhead Park, the team they need to overhaul.
Billingham fought valiantly in the mud at third-placed Sandal but lost 24-20.
Guisborough took a big step towards securing the promotion play-off place in Durham and Northumberland One when they won 19-13 at home to third-placed Gateshead. It widened the gap to nine points with Stockton two points further adrift after drawing 17-17 at home to Blyth.
Stockton took an early lead when they drove a maul 30 metres for lock Phil Douglas to claim the score and a catch-and-drive try from a line-out ten metres out was finished by prop Andy Bailes. Jeremy Good added a superb conversion for a 12-0 lead.
Blyth scored unconverted tries either side of half-time but on 55 minutes, after a couple of relieving penalties, a rare flowing move resulted in home full back Danny Phinn crashing over in the corner.
Blyth drew level with a converted try after 65 minutes and after both sides missed penalties several players went straight to the showers in full kit in an attempt to warm up.