DARLINGTON MOWDEN PARK are the early pace-setters at the top of National One after following up their opening weekend win at Bishop’s Stortford with a home bonus-point success over Rotherham.

Having been relegated from the Championship last season, Rotherham provided tough opposition, but Mowden’s win leaves them one point clear at the top of the table.

A tight opening saw the scoresheet remain blank for the opening 25 minutes, but Mowden finally broke the deadlock when Ben Frankland burrowed over from close range. South African fly-half Warren Seals added the conversion on what was to prove an accomplished day from the tee.

The hosts doubled their lead soon as they opted for a five-metre scrum despite lining up against a bigger Titans pack. The decision paid off, with Argentinian scrum-half Bruno Bravo darting from the base to score under the posts. Seals added the extras to give his side a 14-0 lead at the break.

Mowden started the second half strongly, extending their lead after 47 minutes. The introduction of debutant Ben Stevenson had an instant impact, with the young centre playing a key role in creating a well-worked team try that was finished by Chris Georgiou.

Rotherham hit back instantly through their own replacement, Dan Richardson, before Tongan lock Talite Vaioleti gave Mowden their bonus-point try in trademark style, smashing his way through from five metres out.

The hosts extended their lead even further with the try of the game shortly after the hour mark, Seals collecting his own deft chip before finding Stevenson, who raced away to score.

Rotherham rallied to claim two late tries, but Mowden had the final word thanks to a Jake Brady try on the stroke of full-time

Bravo was named Man of the Match after a typically energetic display, with Georgiou also earning an honourable mention for a string of successful line breaks.

Mowden director of rugby Danny Brown will also take heart from the performance of his forwards, who held their own against a much larger Rotherham scrum.

Mowden’s testing start to the season continues this weekend as they travel to Old Elthamians, who have started the season with impressive away wins over both Rotherham and Blackheath.