Rugby Result: Darlington Mowden Park 12 Rosslyn Park 24
Mowden's defence stopped Park running away with the match
The impressive Northern Echo Arena had its biggest crowd of the season, who enjoyed a magnificent match that was an outstanding advertisement for National 1 rugby. Two sides playing attractive running rugby locked horns and if the visitors did enough in the first hour to fully deserve their win, then Mowden came back sufficiently strongly to severely test Park’s defences at the end.
Rosslyn Park attacked from the start and some glorious sweeping moves, allied to their strong pack, saw them force Mowden onto the back foot. A move working the ball across the pitch saw them win a penalty that – but for playing into a strong wind – would have been a certain three-pointer. Instead fly half Scott Sneddon put a pinpoint kick into touch on 5 metres. Winning the throw, Park set up a maul and prop Alex Lundberg got over for 5-0 on three minutes. Sneddon over-compensated for the wind in hooking a difficult conversion.
Few teams could have withstood the onslaught that hit Mowden, but their defence coped excellently and, when they could get their hands on the ball, the home side looked very dangerous indeed on the counter. So it proved on 12 minutes when Mowden gained a scrum on the left and fashioned a splendid try for right wing Tom Kill, popping up by the posts. Centre Garry Law converted for an unlikely home lead of 7-5.
That did not last long as another sweeping move led to a ruck and it was winger Dave Vincent, looking a potent threat all afternoon, who pounced to score. Sneddon converted to restore the visitors’ lead at 12-7 on 17 minutes.
Park still had by far the lion’s share of attacking possession and – had Mowden not found a knack of disrupting their line-out – would probably have scored again much sooner than on the half hour. They won a perfectly kickable penalty but, needing a bonus point win, Sneddon was asked to find the corner which he did with aplomb. Park set up an immense attack, gaining a scrum that appeared to get over. When it was re-set there was no doubt as the home forwards slithered backwards. Hugo Ellis bagged the classic number 8 try, dropping on the ball as it crossed the line. Sneddon’s conversion hit the post, but it was 17-7.
Mowden launched a massive attack of their own, forcing Park to display all their defensive skills. It was resisted successfully, and Park regained the initiative. Eventually the home side gained a penalty on the stroke of half time, but Law’s kick went narrowly wide.
The second half began just as the first had finished, with Park taking the ball to the home side. Eventually they managed to lay siege to the home line and there was an air of inevitability when prop Alex MacKenzie powered over.
It looked as if Park might run away with the match, but Mowden had other ideas and, as Park’s error count began to increase, the home side’s confidence grew. They put Park severely to the sword, forcing them to show all their considerable defensive skills. The tackling was immense.
With 19 minutes remaining home fly half Grant Cannon finally found a way through to pull the score back to 24-12.
Park still looked dangerous on the break, and looked seriously hard done by with a couple of decisions at the scrum, where they were clearly the stronger side but were penalised while in good attacking positions.
But it was Mowden who by now held the attacking initiative. Park defended superlatively, but there were anxious moments when skipper Ellis was sin-binned with 5 minutes to go. Park held out, and absolutely deserved to win. However, it takes two teams to make a match this good and Darlington Mowden Park look set to be a major force in this division next season.
March 30, 2015