ANY lingering hopes of Darlington Mowden Park claiming the National One title were sunk at the weekend as they crashed to a 42-0 home defeat at the hands of league leaders Coventry.

Mowden went in to their eagerly-awaited meeting with the only team above them in the table defending a 100 per cent home record, but despite a crowd of 1,879 packing in to The Northern Echo Arena – the biggest of the season – Danny Brown’s side were unable to produce an upset.

Coventry ran out comfortable winners as they extended their lead at the top of the table to 26 points, and with the leaders having just seven more games to go, a place in the Championship is now in their grasp.

Mowden will spend the rest of the season trying to cement second position, and currently boast a six-point lead over third-placed Plymouth Albion.

They were behind after just 98 seconds of Saturday’s game, with a quick tap penalty enabling Coventry forward Tom Jubb to score underneath the posts.

Mowden responded with a prolonged period of pressure in their opponents’ 22, but the Coventry defence held firm despite three close-in line-outs and a five-metre scrum.

The hosts’ failure to make their pressure pay was punished moments later, with Coventry embarking on an 80-metre break that ended with James Stokes going over for his 17th try of the season.

Two penalties from Will Maisey left Coventry 20-0 ahead at the interval, and any hopes of a second-half Mowden comeback were killed off when they conceded two tries in the space of as many minutes before the hour mark.

Heath Stevens crossed after Coventry kicked a penalty to the right corner, and winger Max Trimble secured the four-try bonus point for the visitors when he scored after claiming a kick.

Trimble added his second try shortly after, finishing off in acrobatic fashion in the left corner, and Coventry completed their scoring when Jubb sprinted in for his second try of the afternoon late on.

Mowden continuing pushing to the finish, but were unable to make any impact on the scoreboard. Having lost at Plymouth in their previous game, they will attempt to avoid a third successive defeat when they host Esher on Saturday.

Darlington Mowden Park: Radwan, MacKenzie, Law, Seals, McCartney (Frankland 50), Connon, Dudman; Brocklebank, Wood, Appleby (Payne 47), Craggs (Vaioleti 45), Brady (Preston-Routledge 60), Fisher (Uzokwe 45), Heaton, Hodgson.