DARLINGTON MOWDEN PARK survived a second-half comeback from Esher to claim a 24-17 win that leaves them in seventh position in the National One table.

Mowden looked like racking up a huge win when they scored 24 unanswered points in the opening half-hour, but they remained to add to their score from that point on, and Esher’s late rally enabled them to leave The Northern Echo Arena with a losing bonus point.

That looked unlikely early on, with Mowden flying out of the traps. Warren Seals’ early three-pointer opened the scoring, and after Esher struck the post with a penalty attempt of their own, Danny Brown’s side cut loose.

Simon Uzokwe marked his first start of the season with a typically powerful opening try, with wing Ollie Walker crossing himself shortly after to extend Mowden’s lead.

Seals converted both tries to establish a 17-0 advantage, and there was more joy for the hosts with the half-hour mark approaching.

A catch-and-drive line-out move sent the Mowden pack hurtling towards the Esher line, and the ball was spun wide to winger Shaun McCartney, who dotted down to score.

Another successful Seals conversion made it 24-0, but remarkably that was to be the end of Mowden’s scoring as they took their collective foot off the pedal.

Esher were much more purposeful with the half-time interval looming, and the visitors got their reward when fly-half Basil Strang burst through a gap in the Mowden defence to score under the posts.

Lloyd Davies’ successful conversion made it 24-7 at the break, and Mowden’s second-half lethargy enabled the visitors to gain an increased foothold in the game.

Replacement prop Jack Musk scored Esher’s second try after a well-executed catch-and-drive move, and Mowden were reduced to 14 men with 11 minutes remaining after an altercation involving players from both sides resulted in flanker George Stokes receiving a yellow card.

Mowden almost claimed a fourth try when a drive over the try line ended with replacement hooker Jordan Poole dropping the ball, but Esher threatened to set up a grandstand finale when Davies slotted over a penalty after Mowden were penalised for failing to release in the tackle.

Trailing by seven points, Esher pushed for what would have been a remarkable leveller in the final two minutes, but Mowden held out successfully to secure their third win in the last four games.

Mowden return to action on Saturday when they make their longest trip of the season to take on Plymouth Albion, who currently sit one place and five points below them in the table.

Darlington Mowden Park: McTurk, Walker, Frankland, Law, McCartney, Seals, Dudman; Barron, Blamire, Darkintis, Vaioleti, Craggs, Uzokwe, Heaton, Hodgson.

Replacements: Poole, Brady, Fisher, Stokes, Mackenzie.