Mowden must target promotion next season

The Northern Echo: BIG WIN: England’s players huddle after their win against France on Saturday, as the fans at Twickenham celebrate in the background BIG WIN: England’s players huddle after their win against France on Saturday, as the fans at Twickenham celebrate in the background

A TOP four place in their first season in National Two North was beyond Mowden Park’s expectations, but after three games in The Northern Echo Arena they already have cause to regret they will not be moving up another level.

Promotion will become a necessity next season if they are to whet the appetite of the local populace for a more intense, competitive level of rugby.

Not that they feel they need bigger crowds to survive in this echoing chamber, but such flimsy opposition as Huddersfield does not provide the sort of contest which will sustain the current interest.

With snow in the air and internationals on the TV, it was inevitable that the crowd would be about 1,000 down on the 1,500 who attended the first match at the Arena.

In the conditions there was much to admire about Mowden’s mobility and high-speed handling, but once they had scored two converted tries in the first four minutes it was obvious that this would be no contest.

Inside half an hour Chris McTurk had scored a hattrick, which as a winger he could hardly have expected when the snow was falling in the morning.

Coach Danny Brown rang chairman John Widdall to ask if he could promise a free pint to the 12 shovellers he had rounded up to clear the pitch.

By the time Widdall arrived a further 30 volunteers were at work, helped by the security staff. That’s a sign of the spirit which the move has inspired and the hospitality boxes were again busy, reasonably priced at £200 for ten.

With running costs estimated at £1,000 a week, plans to maximise the use of the stadium keep moving forward. It will always be a monument to the ego of George Reynolds, who was spotted at Friday night’s boxing event but is believed to have even less interest in rugby than in football.

Mowden scored five tries in each half, Tom Hodgson landing all the first half conversions and adding a penalty for a 38-5 lead.

He made way for Grant Connon, who faced harder kicks and landed three out of five as Mowden, with several more replacements on, took time to regain their momentum in the second half.

At least that gave them the chance to show they can also defend as Huddersfield battered away at the line for five minutes without getting over.

Flanker Rory Duff revelled in the open play and replacement No 8 Danny Dixon was prominent in the last 20 minutes.

As usual, all the backs looked capable of performing at a higher level and it remains a mystery why Cameron Mitchell has not attracted attention. Perhaps modern centres need to be battering rams rather than silky runners.

Mitchell chipped and regathered in the middle of a 60- metre run for the second try and McTurk did something similar to complete his hattrick after intercepting on halfway for his second.

Former Barnard Castle centre Craig Dominick capped a good performance by stepping inside for the final try after providing the pass for Luke Wishnowsky to grab the previous one.

The others came from Dixon, scrum half Zylon McGaffin, prop Ralph Appleby and Max Connon.

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