11:53am Friday 13th June 2014
By Tim Wellock
DARLINGTON Mowden Park will start life in National One with a derby match against Blaydon at The Northern Echo Arena on September 6.
As they found last season, when they played the other promoted team, Macclesfield, first and last, they will visit Crow Trees for the last of their 30 league games on April 25.
The second match is an attractive fixture at Wharfedale, but the extra travelling at this level begins to kick in Mowden they visit Richmond in the first of their six trips to London on September 27.
Blaydon started poorly last season, losing their first four games before going on a ten-match unbeaten run as they finished in the top six for the second successive season.
They include former Mowden players in prop Robbie Kalbraier, lock Chris Wearmouth and No 8 Jason Smithson.
Mowden have made their fourth signing of the summer in 23-year-old former Newcastle Falcons Academy and Tynedale prop Matt Shields, who has captained North Under 20s and played for England Counties.
Originally from Carlisle, he has played in the Championship for Nottingham and Plymouth Albion, but had a spell on loan back at Tynedale last season.
“I’m pleased to be coming back to the North East,” he said. “I know a fair few of the boys already – they are a good bunch of guys and talented players.
“I have been up to watch a few of Mowden’s games, including the play-off match against Ampthill.
“They play a good brand of rugby and I think it is a really positive time to be involved in the club.”
Forwards coach Danny Brown said: “It’s no secret that there is a big step up in physicality and it important that we recruit wisely to ensure we are a competitive outfit.
“Matt has a proven track record at this level and higher. He is a solid scrummager and excels around the park. He has been on our radar for a while and it is great to have him finally put pen to paper in two-year deal.”
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