HAVING seen off the league leaders last weekend, Darlington Mowden Park are hoping to complete a notable double when they host second-placed Blackheath at The Northern Echo Arena on Saturday afternoon.

Mowden produced their best display of the season seven days ago as they thrashed National One pace-setters Old Elthamians 41-26 in a bonus-point success.

Things don’t get any easier, with Blackheath heading to the North-East, but with a number of their injured stars having returned to the fold, Mowden will head into their second game of 2019 in a buoyant mood.

“Obviously, spirits are up after winning and there was a good buzz on Tuesday, but every week we have to start again,” said Mowden forwards coach Mark Luffman. “After all, it’s just one win. We need to get the mentality and prep right this week to keep the momentum going.

“Blackheath are again one of the top sides in the league for a reason. Again, it will be a real challenge, and I’m sure they’ll want to bounce back from last week’s result (when they lost to Plymouth Albion.”

Mowden outperformed Old Elthamians with a fair bit to spare last weekend, with Garry Law and Callum Mackenzie both claiming a brace of tries.

Luffman was understandably pleased with his side’s finishing prowess seven days ago, but also felt they performed creditably when the league leaders were attempting to break them down.

“In a game where we remembered the tragic loss of Luke Bell, it was great that the lads played so well,” he said. “It’s always great to beat one of the top sides, but I think the manner of the win was important too.

“Our energy and enthusiasm was fantastic and I think everyone could see the lads intent to play for each other.

“Some of the ball movement, support and attacking play was as good as we have been this year. We also had a lot of defending to do - some because OE’s are a real attacking threat and some as we put ourselves under pressure - but we coped with that really well too. Despite conceding 26 points, there was some excellent defence.”

While last weekend’s scoring was dominated by the backs, it was the work of the forwards that set the platform for a lot of Mowden’s success.

“We were pleased with some bits of the set-piece,” said Luffman. “We didn’t get everything right, but the guys adapted and dug in to deal with their scrum and maul which is a real threat. We are always working on the set-piece, but we’ve put a little more emphasis on some technical points in the last few weeks.”

It was a forward who was awarded the Man of the Match honours in the OEs game, with number eight Rory Duff catching the eye as he made his first home start of the season.

Duff was one of a number senior players to return at the start of the new year, and both Luffman and Mowden’s director of rugby, Danny Brown, are delighted to see the injury list beginning to ease.

“It was great to see Rory back at the weekend and playing so well,” said Luffman. “We have a few more lads available now returning from injury so there is real pressure on places. It also gives us chance to rotate some players to keep the squad fresh.”

With last weekend’s victory having lifted Mowden to eighth in the table, level on points with the team above them, Plymouth Albion, Brown has named an unchanged starting 15 to take on Blackheath.

The only changes come in the replacements, with Dave Fisher, Simon Uzokwe and Warren Seals returning to take their place in the matchday squad.

Mowden’s National One game with Blackheath kicks-off at 3pm, with the women’s team, Darlington Mowden Park Sharks, following on with a home game against Loughborough at 5pm.

  • Darlington Mowden Park (vs Blackheath): McTurk, Asher-Wood, Walker, Mackenzie, McCartney, Law, Dudman; Barron, Poole, Appleby, Vaioleti, Craggs, Stokes, Heaton, Duff.