IT was the archetypal game of two halves at The Northern Echo Arena as Darlington Mowden Park’s stirring second-half fightback against National One leaders Ampthill resulted in them claiming two bonus points.

Mowden looked like finishing on the wrong end of a hiding when they trailed 28-0 after half-an-hour, but Danny Brown’s side rallied impressively before eventually going down 33-26 to an Ampthill side that could well find themselves playing in the Championship next season.

The result sees Ampthill maintain their five-point lead at the top of National One, with Mowden remaining in sixth position with four more games to play.

Mowden were on the back foot for the majority of the first half, although they almost opened the scoring inside the opening five minutes as full-back Chris McTurk broke clear from his own 22 before being hauled down just short of the Ampthill line.

The next 30 minutes were dominated by the visitors, who sealed a bonus point with four quick-fire tries.

Tongan hooker Aleki Lutui opened the scoring from a catch-and-drive, after home lock Jake Brady was sin-binned for an off-the-ball incident.

Ampthill took further advantage of their extra man five minutes later, when an over-thrown line-out from the home side was duly punished, with James Pritchard scoring in the corner.

Their clinical finishing was shown further when Jon Kpoku barged over from close range, and inside centre Sam Hanks added a fourth score after just 28 minutes.

Mowden responded well, however, with Ben Frankland burrowing over with the final play of the first half to make it 28-5 to the visitors at the break.

Mowden started the second half as they finished the first, with a well-taken try from McTurk, who cut a sharp line inside the Ampthill half. Warren Seals converted, before playing a big part in his side’s third minutes later.

The South African’s deep kick to the corner was casually fielded by Ampthill winger Sam Baker, who was penalised for not releasing on the ground. Mowden took the penalty quickly, and Simon Uzokwe powered over to reduce the deficit to nine points.

The next score proved to be crucial, as Ampthill fly-half Josh Sharp extended his side’s lead to 14 with a well-worked try from a scrum on halfway.

Frankland sped over for his second of the game late on to set up a nervy finish for the visitors, but they held on to further reinforce their promotion prospects.