Darlington Mowden Park 26 Hull Ionians 41

THE PIVOTAL moment in the final game of the season at the Northern Echo Arena reminded Mowden Park of what they have missed this season.

They were at their best last year when they had two tall, athletic locks in Rob Conquest and Tom Jubb, and another player of that ilk, Ionians' Ed Falkingham, turned this game.

Mowden had controlled the opening half hour and led 12-3, but when they dropped the ball Falkingham collected it just inside his own half and galloped away like a thoroughbred racehorse to score.

Given that they have lacked locks of such stature, Mowden have done well after an indifferent start to the season, although this defeat dropped them into a tenth-place finish.

Although some fans in a boisterous 1,400 crowd were happy to see Blaydon go down, there could be no accusations of doing them no favours.

Ionians needed the win to be sure of staying ahead in the relegation scrap and once Falkingham's try gave them a foothold in the game they looked too good to go down.

An early ten-minute delay prior to their hooker being stretchered off probably didn't help the visitors and Mowden looked to have the sharper backs.

Centres Chris Auld and Ben Frankland combined to send full back Jamie Barnard under the posts and another good attack produced a powerful finish from winger Shaun McCartney.

Then came the turning point and, despite two tries from Simon Uzokwe, Mowden ceded control.

Uzokwe nipped over unopposed from a ruck on the 22 just before half-time, but Hull had edged into a 20-19 lead when he was sin-binned ten minutes after the break.

His interference almost certainly prevented another try as a strong attack had been halted inches short, but Ionians scored twice more while he was off to lead 34-19. Both tries came from impressive fly half Callum Irvine.

Mowden sent on Kiwi winger Will Murray and his strong run earned a penalty under the posts, which Uzokwe took quickly and bulldozed over.

Garry Law's third conversion left Mowden eight points adrift with eight minutes left, but Hull were not to be denied and a precise cross-kick by Irvine found a player unmarked on the left for a simple fifth try.