A GAME in which the lead changed hands seven times was settled in the last-minute when a converted try gave Darlington a 36-34 home win against Durham City.
Although the try was scored by winger Tony Taylor, he had joined the back of a driving maul, which proved very effective for the stronger home forwards. City were sharper in the backs, although young Sam Hardy had a good game at fly half for Darlington.
The visitors played most of the second half with 14 men because of injuries and were down to 13 for the last ten minutes when Jeff Roberts was sin-binned.
After six yellow cards in the previous two weeks, Darlington picked up two more for Mark Baldwin and Dan Miller.
City's injuries started after five minutes when No 8 Paddy Dias dislocated a shoulder, but they came back from 12-5 down to lead 20-12 at half-time.
Having scored close range tries through back row men Kevin Gilroy and Colin Rogers, Darlington added two more through Rogers and Joe Oselton to regain the lead at 22-20 and the game continued to see-saw.
Winger Rob Smith scored a hat-trick for City, their other tries coming from centre Arnie Stevenson and fly half Tom Hodgson, while Paul Armstrong kicked three conversions and a penalty.
Replacement centre Henry Carver scored Darlington's penultimate try and after Taylor levelled the scores Baldwin settled it with his third conversion.
Leaders Horden won 29-0 at Novos.
Neither of Tyneside's National One duo was able to tune up for this week's derby at Crow Trees with a win.
Blaydon's ten-game unbeaten run ended in a 9-5 defeat at Fylde, while Tynedale squandered an early 17-0 lead in losing 32-24 at home to Richmond.
The Londoners scored four tries from rolling mauls, something Blaydon will doubtless try to emulate after their usual catch-and-drive strength was nullified by the wind turning the line-out into a lottery at Fylde.
It also played havoc with the goal kicking and one effort Andrew Baggett thought he had nailed veered at the last second to come back off an upright.
Fylde never looked like scoring a try but kicked two penalties on rare escapes from their own territory as the Blaydon pack dominated in the first half.
They were rewarded when skipper Keith Laughlin scored the only try of a game in which both sides defended well. The only second half score came from Fylde's third penalty after 60 minutes.
With only two wins from 15 at the halfway stage, Tynedale will be desperate to add to the one-point home victory they enjoyed against Blaydon in September.
Gavin Beasley kicked a penalty and converted tries by winger Dan Rundle and full back Craig Willis to give them a flying start against Richmond and they still led 17-7 at half-time.
But it all went wrong after they lost prop Mark Irving and hooker Stephen Ridley.
Darlington Mowden Park turned on the style with 40 points in the second half to win 54-0 at home to Luctonians in National Two North.
It should be much the same this week when fourth-bottom Hull visit The Northern Echo Arena and if Mowden remain second at the end of the season they should be sure of a home play-off.
That's because the teams vying for second place in Two South keep losing, with current occupants Cambridge suffering a shock home defeat to Shelford on Saturday.
After the trek from Herefordshire, Luctonians defended well in the first half but folded when Mowden stepped it up after the interval.
Shaun McCartney, restored to the wing in the absence of Tom Kill, scored a try in each half and there was also a brace for skipper Cameron Mitchell, taking his season's tally to ten.
His fellow centre Chris Peace continued his return from injury by going on from the bench to set up Mitchell's first and add one of his own.
Mitchell's second was a length-of-the-field effort, as was Callum McKenzie's, and there were also tries for hooker Ross White and winger Chris McTurk. Gavin Painter kicked four conversions and replacement Tom Hodgson three.
Westoe's improvement continued in National Three North when winger Jamie Clark scored a first half hat-trick in a 40-32 win at home to second-placed Rossendale. He pulled a hamstring in scoring his third and missed the second half.
There was also a quickfire hat-trick for Billingham full back Peter Evans, who also landed five conversions for a 25-point tally in a 50-7 home win against Penrith.
West Hartlepool's 10-6 win at Morpeth put them joint second in North One East with Huddersfield YMCA, who lost 19-8 at Northern.
Stockton, without four of the previous week's backs, slipped to fourth from the bottom in D and N One when they lost 48-15 at Gateshead. There were tries for stand-in full back Steve Bartliff and fly half Jeremy Good, who added a penalty and conversion.