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Mowden run up a cricket score against Morley
THE cricket season is still a month away, but with spring in the air Mowden Park racked up a total more in keeping with The Oval than the oval ball.
The scoreline was rendered even more bizarre by the fact that nine of their 16 tries were scored by players whose surnames begin with Mc.
Only one, Scotland Under 20s winger Chris McTurk, hails from north of the border, although the others doubtless have some tartan ancestry.
McTurk scored a hat-trick, as did South African scrum half Zylon McGaffin, while winger Shaun McCartney grabbed a brace and replacement flanker Will McCauley touched down once.
Having just sacked their coach, Morley are a club in disarray, plunging headlong towards a second successive relegation. They won this division two years ago but came straight back down, which will surely not happen to Mowden.
"All these players will be back next year and the average age is only 22," said chairman of rugby Mike Keeligan. "They just played absolutely tremendous rugby and blew Morley away.
"We probably scored 100 points against Darlington RA many years ago, but we've certainly never done it since we started climbing the leagues."
With the sale of the Yiewsley Drive ground expected to boost the coffers shortly, there could be more money available for the playing budget in National Two North next season.
But chairman John Widdall said: "I don't think we'll need to increase it by much. It's at the next level, National One, where it becomes a lot more costly."
Morley looked as though they meant business when they were going through their warm-up routine. But once the action started it was quickly obvious that tackling wasn't on their agenda.
They also went backwards at every scrum and when they lost one against the head in the second minute Mowden No 8 Danny Dixon picked up and shrugged off two tackles on a 20-metre burst to the line.
Dixon scored an early-season hat-trick as a prop and since his move to the back row he has become very prolific. This time he completed a treble in the first half, his second being the only try which was scored from close range.
While for the most part it was unopposed rugby, the rest of the tries came from fluent moves. The only Mowden player who cannot be described as athletic is prop Dan Miller, but his work at the coalface more than justifies his presence.
Following his switch from centre, Tom Hodgson has quickly grown into the fly half role on the end of the superb service from McGaffin, who is apparently also a talented cricketer and could be available to a local club this summer.
After fluffing the first, Hodgson kicked 13 of the remaining 15 conversions and the only blot for Mowden was that teenage flanker Liam Riley had to depart with a leg injury midway through the first half.
Not that they were going to be weakened by the introduction of McCauley, who raced over from 40 metres after Dixon broke away from one of the restarts.
Another outstanding performer was centre Chris Peace, who either side-stepped tackles or bounced off them, scoring two tries.
Flanker Luke Wishnowsky and prop Ralph Appleby also touched down as Mowden built rapidly on a 59-0 half-time lead.
They had the ton up with 15 minutes left and might have scored even more had Morley not resorted to fighting. Mowden were inevitably drawn into the fisticuffs, and McCartney had to sit out the last ten minutes, along with a visiting centre who had already been warned.
Morley almost got to the line in the last few minutes, but Mowden lock Andy Wilson broke out on a 50-metre charge which underlined the side's mobility.
They have no game this week, but should clinch promotion in their final home game against Lymm on March 31.