All too easy for Park as Wood bags debut brace

First published in Rugby Darlington and Stockton Times: Photograph of the Author by

ANOTHER one-sided contest at The Northern Echo Arena underlined why Mowden need to bring a higher level of rugby to their magnificent stadium.

In four home matches this season they have scored 223 points and conceded 36, but they might have to wait for the final game, on April 26, to discover their fate.

That’s when National Two North leaders Macclesfield come calling and on current form the only other serious test the Cheshire club are likely to face is at Stourbridge this week.

Stourbridge are also unbeaten, but they failed for the fourth time on Saturday to pick up a four-try bonus, so Mowden are now only one point behind them.

Mowden also face a test this week, away to fourth-placed Sedgley Park, and they will hope that locks Chris Campbell and Pierce Phillips are fit after both failed to finish for the second successive home game.

Guy Van Den Dries again moved up from No 8 and was joined in the second row for the last 25 minutes by Liam Riley, who had gone on as a replacement flanker.

It meant Callum McKenzie had to switch from centre to blind side, but while Mowden’s impact in the tight might have been reduced they became devastating in broken play.

There was a brace for Mike Wood, the 37-year-old former Premiership winger making his Mowden debut, proving he still knows the way to the line.

It’s a position where Mowden have an embarrassment of riches as he was the fifth winger they have used and last season’s leading try scorer, Chris McTurk, was making his comeback in the second team.

While young flanker Jack Allcock won the man of the match award it might easily have gone to full back Henry Robinson.

After two weeks without touching down, the league’s leading try scorer took his tally to 11 and also launched two brilliant late counter-attacks from his own 22.

For the first he slid on to the ball five metres from the line after the Tigers had hacked on, then swiftly regained his feet and broke down the middle in a move which ended with McKenzie being stopped just short.

Then came a sensational try to round off the game when Robinson broke again and linked with Rory Duff. He put Riley away up the left and the youngster stepped past a tackle before passing inside for winger Tom Kill to go under the posts.

That was Mowden’s ninth try and it scarcely mattered that Grant Connon had an offday with the boot.

He missed the first three conversions before Robinson landed one from three and replacement Gavin Painter converted two of the last three.

With the forwards again driving the mauls to good effect, three of the four first half tries came from close range, finished by McKenzie, hooker Ross White and Wood.

Skipper Cameron Mitchell also cruised over after a break by McKenzie, his fellow centre.

It was 20-3 at half-time, then Wood produced a classy finish on the right wing after Mitchell made the running.

There was a lull after Mowden sent on their three forward replacements before Campbell was injured. But midway through the second half they scored three tries in four minutes.

Robinson grabbed a loose ball on the blind side of a ruck to dart over and from the restart Riley broke away and linked with Van Den Dries, who sent replacement hooker Ross Doneghan over.

After the next restart the Tigers were penalised and Painter took a tap penalty to launch an attack which featured Mitchell and Robinson and was finished by Grant Connon.

It was a sparkling try, but Mowden saved the best for last as Kill registered his seventh of the season.

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