10:08am Friday 2nd May 2014
DARLINGTON Mowden Park had to rely on all sorts of promotion permutations last week – but head coach John Newton admits any win will do in one final play-off against Ampthill.
Mowden were all set for automatic promotion when, in the final minute of Saturday’s game, Macclesfield burrowed through for a fourth try and picked up two bonus points in the process in a 28-24 defeat.
That meant Macclesfield headed to SSE National League One as champions at the expense of Newton’s men, who have been licking their wounds in preparation for a play-off showdown with Ampthill.
The SSE National League Two South side have bundles of experience – including former Cardiff Blues back-row Maama Molitika – to draw upon at The Northern Echo Arena tomorrow.
But with home advantage on their side, Newton has called on his troops to nose over the line by hook or by crook.
“There are a lot of different ways of scoring on the weekend – we can win 3-0 or 100-0, it doesn’t matter,” he said.
“It doesn’t come down to who does or doesn’t score four tries like it did against Macclesfield.
“We’ve played Amphtill before so we’re going to treat it like a cup final and get back on the horse after the disappointment.
“We played them in pre-season but it’s difficult to judge them based on that.
“We had a squad of 40 and they only had one of 25 so they’ve added since then and have many experienced players.
“They’ve got ex-professionals like Maama – Rory Teague was playing for them at the start of the season and they’ve got some really quality players.
“We will see how we get on, we’re a young side so we have to be wary of the weapons we have.”
Darlington only lost three times in SSE National League Two North this year in contrast to Ampthill, who suffered eight defeats in the south division.
Yet Park head coach Newton believes it is only an indicator of Ampthill’s strength in what is a fiercely-contested division.
“It changes each year but we always do think the south is stronger in terms of competition and the top sides in there,” he added.
“Hartpury College got promoted to National One but lost seven or eight games this year, so anyone can beat anybody.
“But that doesn’t mean our wins haven’t come through our own quality - we definitely have a chance.”
Three Darlington Mowden Park players have been named in the England Counties Under 20s squad for the international against Georgia Under 20s at Cambridge’s Volac Park on May 24.
Back row duo Guy Van Den Dries and Toby Allcock, both first team regulars, are joined by hooker Tom Larder in the 25-man squad.
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