Coventry 36 Darlington Mowden Park 46

DARLINGTON MOWDEN PARK are guaranteed the highest league finish in their history after seeing off National One champions Coventry.

Mowden became only the second team to beat Coventry all season as they claimed a 46-36 win in their penultimate game of the campaign, and the victory means they are now guaranteed to finish second in the table.

They have never finished as high in the third tier of the game, and their most recent success was arguably their most impressive of the season given that Coventry became the only side to beat them at The Northern Echo Arena earlier this year.

Coventry started confidently in front of a healthy crowd as they looked to extend a 25-game unbeaten run on home soil, and opened the scoring after 13 minutes through hooker Scott Tolmie.

Mowden responded well, though, and levelled the scores shortly after as Callum Mackenzie finished off a well-worked try.

Warren Seals’ conversion made the scores 7-7, and Mowden quickly took the lead as full-back Grant Connon rounded off another slick passing move through the backs.

Will Maisey kicked a penalty to close Coventry’s deficit to four, and after Alfie Barron was sin-binned following a collapsed scrum, the champions were awarded a penalty try on the stroke of half-time.

With the automatic conversion added, Coventry looked to be heading into the break ahead, but their lead proved short lived as Connon crossed for his second try in first-half stoppage time. Seals converted to give Mowden a 21-17 lead at the break.

Coventry produced an instant response at the start of the second half, scoring twice in the space of two minutes as they took full advantage of their extra man.

Winger Max Trimble scored both tries, but Mowden once again responded brilliantly, with Garry Law slotting a long-range penalty.

The scores were level on 50 minutes as Seals pounced on a loose ball to dot down his tenth try of the season, handing Mowden the four-try bonus point in the process.

The South African converted his own score to level things up, before adding a penalty shortly after, and things got even better for Mowden as Mackenzie crossed for his second try of the game.

Coventry piled on the pressure as they looked to preserve their home record, and Heath Stevens set up a grandstand finish, narrowing the gap to five points with five minutes remaining.

Mowden claimed a decisive score with the final play of the game, though, as Mackenzie dotted down for his hat-trick.

“To come here and put in a performance like that against such a quality side like Coventry and take away their home record is great,” said Mowden director of rugby Danny Brown. “It was a terrific game and credit to the boys for coming back after conceding the two tries immediately after half time.

“It’s the highest the club’s finished. This season was about seeing how good these boys are and they’ve really proved themselves, so we’ll enjoy this and then next season is next season.”

Mowden round off their campaign when they travel to Loughborough this weekend.