McCartney boosts Mowden promotion drive

The Northern Echo: UP-ENDED: Mowden Park's Pearce Phillips is tackled by Penrith UP-ENDED: Mowden Park's Pearce Phillips is tackled by Penrith

THE bonus point try scored six minutes from time by Shaun McCartney took Mowden 16 points clear at the top of National Three North and ended Penrith's spirited resistance.

Had it not been for their spirit, the Cumbrians would have been blown away much earlier, especially if Mowden had got the ball to McCartney more often.

The former Newcastle Falcons Academy winger has developed into a powerful unit and is on the radar of the England Sevens selectors.

After giving up a Saturday job to concentrate on rugby he has forced his way into the Mowden team, despite their glut of wingers, and if he remains available he will be well capable of performing at a higher level next season.

Although only two of their remaining seven games are at home, Mowden look certainties for promotion because they are in a class of their own in this division.

Why it took them until the stroke of half-time to nose ahead of Penrith was difficult to comprehend, although the absence of fly half Grant Connon didn't help.

His knee injury could keep him out for some time and the decision to promote local talent by switching Tom Hodgson to No 10 did not have the desired results.

He reverted to centre for the last 30 minutes, with army man Will Gough going on to show some of the artistry required of a fly half.

When he put centre Cameron Mitchell through a gap on a 50-metre run it ended a surprising period of pressure from Penrith, who had no right to be still in the game but trailed only 20-13.

Shortly afterwards Mitchell's inside pass allowed McCartney to burst through the middle and go under the posts, Gough adding the conversion.

In Connon's absence, the earlier kicks had been taken by scrum half Todd Harrison, who was replaced for the last 20 minutes by South African newcomer Zylon McGaffin, who looked very lively.

Penrith's line-out was a shambles and at one attacking scrum they hurtled backwards like a mini being hit by a juggernaut. They also coughed up so much turnover ball in the first half that Mowden should have been out of sight.

Instead they had to claw their way back from conceding an 80-metre interception try and after Harrison slotted the first penalty he missed the second from almost under the posts.

Getting the ball wide always looked Mowden's best bet and they finally scored tries in both corners. McCartney appeared in the centre to help create the overlap for right winger Chris McTurk to squeeze over, then No 8 Danny Dixon raced over on the left flank after McTurk had gone close on the right.

On a rare escape from their own half, Penrith slotted a 35-metre penalty to trail only 13-10 at half-time.

Mowden scored again shortly after the restart. A powerful surge by young lock Pearce Phillips was followed by several attempts at the line before prop Dan Miller burrowed over, Harrison converting.

That might have been the signal for the floodgates to open, but surprisingly Penrith hit back and a period of pressure was rewarded by another penalty.

To their credit, the Cumbrians never gave up and even after McCartney's try they were still trying to find a way to the line.

With tireless flanker Luke Wishnowsky supported by some fearsome hits from bigger colleagues, the Mowden defence never looked like being breached.

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