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Mowden target a play-off spot
DARLINGTON Mowden Park feel confident they can target an end-of-season promotion play-off in their proposed new home, despite losing 33-18 away to National Two North leaders Stourbridge.
They led 18-8 going into first half injury time but a controversial penalty try kick-started the Midlanders' surge to victory.
The other previously unbeaten team, Hull Ionians, lost at Caldy, where Mowden have already won. So the omens remain good for a second place finish, with Saturday's injuries not causing too much concern.
Dynamic flanker Luke Wishnowsky will be rested for this week's visit of Leicester Lions after surviving a nasty blow in the mouth at Stourbridge before a second big hit forced him off after 28 minutes.
The bigger setback was the loss of both half backs either side of half-time and irrespective of how quickly he recovers from a hamstring strain scrum half Zylon McGaffin will miss two games.
He apparently entrusted a friend to get his passport scanned but it was badly chewed by the friend's dog and McGaffin has to return to South Africa to have his visa renewed.
Fly half Grant Connon was taken out by his Tongan international opposite number but should be fit for Saturday.
In the reshuffle his brother Max switched from full back to scrum half, Tom Hodgson went on at ten and Shaun McCartney on the wing, with Chris McTurk going to full back.
Chairman of rugby Mike Keeligan said: "The lads did us proud.
"I'm very pleased with the way they stood up against a big, strong, more experienced side. Stourbridge happily admitted that their playing budget is four times ours but they said we were easily the best team they have faced this season.
"We played open rugby and created holes in their defence, but they were stronger in the scrums. When the referee awarded the penalty try he said we had turned the scrum, but we were never in a position to do that."
Grant Connon chipped ahead for McTurk to score after five minutes and after Stourbridge also scored penalties were exchanged for Mowden to lead 10-8.
They went further ahead when back row man Guy Van Den Dries scored from a line-out then Connon added another penalty.
The penalty try came at the start of ten minutes of added time and a penalty levelled the score at half-time.
Connon missed two 40-metre penalties before being forced off and Stourbridge went ahead for the first time ten minutes after the interval through a penalty.
Their forward power produced a try after 66 minutes and in the final minute they piled every player into a driving maul to claim the bonus point try, although Mowden felt the referee couldn't possibly have seen the ball grounded under such a pile of bodies.
Westoe's three-game winning run ended with a 28-10 defeat at Bromsgrove after trailing only 13-10 with 20 minutes left.
The hosts went ahead with a try after nine minutes but had to wait until the dying minutes to add two more, all their points inbetween coming from penalties.
Fly half Jordan Carey scored Westoe's try when he re-gathered his own kick from halfway and went under the posts. Matt Mellish converted after also kicking a first half penalty.
Tynedale have lost six on the trot following the 44-31 defeat at Richmond and are now fourth from the bottom in National One. They showed plenty of pace in the backs and were level at 17-17 at half-time, but the home pack took charge after the interval.
Scrum half Harry Peck nipped over for an early try to give Tynedale the lead and they were ahead again when hooker George McGuigan scored after 23 minutes. Matty Outson again converted, having slotted a penalty in between.
Richmond drew level with a penalty just before half-time then forged ahead with three tries before the 60-minute mark.
Winger Peter Cole and replacement Alex Fieldhouse earned a four-try bonus point for Tynedale.