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Connon ground as Mowden edge past Lions
GRANT Connon passed 200 points for the season as he scored the first and converted all four of Darlington Mowden Park's tries in a hard-fought 28-23 win at Leicester Lions.
Mowden still look certain to finish third in National Two North as they were unable to narrow the nine-point gap separating them from Hull Ionians, who won 33-26 at Otley.
Mowden were, however, given such a hard time by the Leicester Lions pack that they are hopeful the Midlanders will do them a favour when Ionians visit them in two weeks. Either side of that the Humbersiders entertain leaders Stourbridge and Mowden.
Fly half Connon shrugged off a tackle and raced over in the first minute at Leicester, then he and Cameron Mitchell made the running for full back Henry Robinson to touch down, making it 14-0 after six minutes.
But Mowden had to work very hard thereafter as, for the second successive match, their scrum was put under pressure by bigger opponents.
They again defended doggedly, but the gap came down to three points early in the second half before winger Chris McTurk's 19th try of the season eased the pressure.
Prior to that scrum half Zylon McGaffin had nipped over to make it 21-8 at half-time, but the Lions dominated the second half.
The decisive try stemmed from McTurk picking up a loose ball, chipping ahead and dribbling on to score. The Lions scored a third try through their forwards with 13 minutes left, and although things became a little heated Mowden hung on.
Tynedale are not still not safe from relegation in National One, despite a valiant effort in losing 23-21 at Fylde, who clinched their fifth successive win with a 79th-minute penalty.
Tynedale won the try count 3-2 and led 13-3 until the 58th minute before conceding two converted tries and a penalty in the space of six minutes. They still rallied strongly with winger Alex Fieldhouse scoring their third try and Matty Outson adding a penalty to put them a point ahead.
But goal-kicking proved the difference as first half tries by hooker Dave Cherry and No 8 Ben Frankland, plus Fieldhouse's effort, were all unconverted.
Westoe's late bid to escape the drop in National Two North hit the buffers with a 36-12 defeat at Luctonians. The team they need to overhaul, Dudley Kingswinford, managed one point from a 34-27 defeat at Stockport, and the gap is ten points with five games left.
The Herefordshire hosts led 12-0 after six minutes and, although a spell of Westoe forward pressure produced a try for No 8 Scott Powell, they trailed 29-5 by half-time. Centre Loma Fa'atau scored their other try.
Billingham slipped below their visitors Waterloo into eighth place in National Three North when they conceded a last-minute try to lose 23-22.
Waterloo led 13-10 at the interval and moved further ahead before winger Craig Shepherd scored his second try and No 8 Mike Evans also touched down for Billingham.
Full back Peter Evans had also scored in the first half, but he was able to convert only one of the four tries.
Darlington's season looks like ending much as it began as they lost
72-7 at home to Cleckheaton. Despite a run of three wins in four games in mid-season, they have only seven points to show for their efforts as their second deduction has been confirmed for failing to raise a side to play at Morley.
*England Under 18s, who began their preparations by beating Scotland at Darlington, have been crowned European champions for the second successive year. With Middlesbrough prop Lewis Boyce among the replacements, they won the Justin Bridou Trophy after beating France
27-22 in front of 15,000 fans at the Stade de Alpes in Grenoble.
Darlington Mowden Park winger Sean Brown and Middlesbrough flanker Ollie Hodgson were in the England Clubs & Schools Under 18s team which lost 30-15 to their Irish counterparts at Ashbourne RFC in Dublin on Saturday. Alnwick full back Tom Penny scored one of England's tries.