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Darlington Mowden Park 34 Luctonians 18
MOWDEN report that their planned move to the town’s former football arena remains firmly on track, and so does their storming of National Two North.
They have won all seven games since losing the first at Preston and again proved that when you have pace to burn it’s not necessary to win the forward battle.
The visitors from Herefordshire had a few bulls in their pack and were able to dominate the scrums and the early possession. But they were tethered by a tight defence then speared by the Mowden matadors in the last ten minutes of the first half.
Mowden were down to 14 men at that point with Luke Wishnowsky in the bin for handling in a ruck. Incredibly, however, they scored 20 unanswered points to turn an 8-7 deficit into a 27-8 lead.
During the 70 minutes when they had a full complement, Mowden were out-scored 18-14 and they lost their momentum in the second half after fly half Grant Connon was injured and other substitutions were made.
Connon scored an interception try from halfway to spark the ten-minute purple patch and landed two penalties as well as converting all four tries, two from the touchline.
But the outstanding player was flanker Will McCauley, who led the defensive effort and also secured some turnover ball. No 8 Rory Duff wasn’t far behind until he was obliged to make way for Danny Dixon as Mowden try to keep everyone happy.
Luctonians looked the strongest side to visit Yiewsley Drive this season, although they struggled to cross the gain line with ball in hand and didn’t have a goalkicker.
After kicking a couple of penalties to the corner they opted for a scrum and scored the first of two pushover tries to take a 5-0 lead.
Mowden quickly responded with a converted try after running two penalties, the first from deep in their own half when scrum half Zylon Mc- Gaffin nipped away. From the second penalty the ball was moved out for left winger Lewis Johnson to be stopped just short before it was whipped back to the right for Chris McTurk to score.
Luctonians regained the lead when they called on a lock forward to kick a penalty and must have felt confident of moving further ahead when Wishnowsky was sinbinned.
They became over-ambitious, however, allowing Connon to score then getting in a hopeless tangle when they took a quick throw-in. A penalty resulted and Connon obliged from 35 metres.
Then came a scintillating try as Mowden ran from their own 22.
Johnson made good ground up the left wing before passing inside to Duff, who sent Cameron Mitchell racing over.
It could have been even worse for shellshocked Luctonians but Connon hit the left post with another 35-metre penalty on half-time.
He landed a simpler one shortly after the break and it became 34-8 when the four-try bonus was secured by another excellent move.
It ended with skipper Junior Fagalilo turning the ball inside for prop Ralph Appleby to take on a diagonal burst and charge over from 15 metres.
Any chance of a Luctonians fightback looked remote when they were trying to maul their way over the line and a ferocious drive sent them hurtling back ten metres.
But they kept the pressure on and scored another pushover try and Mowden might have had slight cause for concern when a loose pass allowed the visiting full back to pick up and race 80 metres up the left touchline to score.
Neither try was converted and there were no further scares for Mowden as they consolidated third place and ensured the visitors left empty-handed.