DARLINGTON MOWDEN PARK welcome Cinderford to the Darlington Arena this afternoon for their final home game of 2021.

Mowden will be hoping to finish the year on a high after an indifferent start to the 2021-22 National One season.

They face a tough task, with Cinderford currently sitting in second place in the table after an impressive start to the campaign.

The Gloucestershire side had won their opening eight games of the season to take them to the top of the standings before defeats to Rosslyn Park and Rams sandwiched a high-scoring victory over Bishop’s Stortford that took them to nine league wins for the campaign.

Mowden, meanwhile, suffered a 49-22 defeat at Plymouth last weekend. Tries from Ralph Appleby, Joe Craggs, Paul Jarvis and Freddie Lockwood ensured they came away with a bonus point from their longest trip of the season.

The point means that Garry Law’s side head into today’s game in tenth place, having won four and drawn one of their games so far this season.

Asked about the focus in training this week, Law said: “This week has mainly been built around the team getting back to what we are good at in a bid to take Cinderford on. Recent weeks’ performances have been below par and not a true representation of what we are about.”

The Round 14 fixture will be Cinderford’s third National One trip to the Darlington Arena following their promotion in 2018. Their first trip ended in a low scoring 10-7 win for DMP, thanks to a late Warren Seals drop goal and a converted try from Law.

The most recent meeting between the two sides at the Arena saw Cinderford take a last-minute win of their own. Mowden had led 26-20 after tries from Brandon Asher-Wood and Callum Mackenzie, before a late converted try from Joe Mullis sealed the points for the visitors.

Speaking about the challenge posed by today’s opponents, Law added: “The coaches are fully expecting a positive response this weekend in what will be a difficult match against second-placed Cinderford.

“They are a strong team but we also feel that there are areas that we can get big success from if we stick to our guns.”

Law returns to the starting XV as one of four changes to the side that travelled to Plymouth Albion last week.

Full-back Chris McTurk also comes into the starting line-up, and is joined by Callum Mackenzie on the back of his success in the Dubai Sevens last weekend.

The only other change sees Will Jones return from injury to start on the openside flank.