DARLINGTON Mowden Park return to the Northern Echo Arena this weekend as they take on league leaders Ampthill (3pm Kick Off).

Saturday sees Darlington Mowden Park return to the Northern Echo Arena in Round 26 of the National One season. They take on league leaders Ampthill, who will provide a stern test for Danny Brown’s men having not tasted defeat since early January. Saturday’s visitors currently sit 5 points clear of second placed Old Elthamians, and will be looking for an important win to help them maintain their position at the top of the table and continue their push for promotion. Mowden meanwhile be looking to continue a strong run of home form in 2019 in a game which could see them climb to 5th with just a handful of games remaining in the season.

Mowden Park’s Director of Rugby was looking forward to the challenge ahead: “We know what to expect this Saturday from a very strong Ampthill side who have won their last 8 games on the bounce. Any game against Ampthill is always a tough test and they’ve had a particularly strong campaign this year. They’re probably best known for a big physical set of forwards but they’ve scored freely this year and we’re expecting a tough challenge in all areas of the field.”

Ampthill are perhaps the form team in the league, with notable recent wins over top 4 rivals Blackheath and Old Elthamians. Saturday’s hosts have lost just once at home in 2019, and have also taken the scalps of top sides Old Elthamians and Rosslyn Park. Both sides come into Saturday’s game on the back of a bye week, something Brown was grateful for: “The bye week has come at a good time for us and it’s given the squad a well-earned rest before Saturday’s game. It also came after our longest trip of the season to Plymouth so it’s helped break up two tough physical games for us.”

This weekend’s game will most likely see the return of club stalwart Ralph Appleby who has recovered from a knock, as well as fellow prop Ignas Darkintis. Brown’s side have had their fair share of injuries this campaign, and Mowden’s DoR was pleased to be welcoming back a few key players to his matchday squad. “We’ve obviously had a few injury issues since Christmas, particularly in the front row, so it’s great for us to be able to welcome back Ralph and Iggy this weekend.”

Previous games between the two sides have mostly gone the way of Mowden, with Danny Brown’s side winning all of their home games against Ampthill since their promotion to National One. Last season’s game at the Northern Echo Arena went right down to the wire, with a last minute Adam Radwan securing the win for the home side. The reverse fixture earlier in the season saw Ampthill run out 40-29 winners with Mowden claiming a 4 try bonus point from their trip to Dillingham Park.

Saturday’s game promises to be another entertaining contest with both sides looking for an important league win. Tickets are available on the day priced at £10 for adults, £8 for concessions and free for U16s.