Darlington Mowden Park 23 – Blaydon 24

With just 10 minutes remaining Darlington looked set to start their life in National League One with a win over local rivals only to have victory snatched from their grasp by Chris Wearmouth the Blaydon lock-forward who stormed over for two late tries.

In an incident packed game the home side had both Rob Conquest and Henry Robinson yellow carded whilst the visitors were reduced to 14 men from the 45th minute when prop forward and director of rugby Micky Ward was sent off for violent conduct.

Rhodri Adamson opened the scoring for Blaydon with a 15th minute penalty but that was wiped out by Garry Law, Darlington’s man of the match, who kept Blaydon on the back foot throughout with some towering kicks and went on to land a personal tally of 13 points.
On 35 minutes the Blaydon forwards applied pressure in the 22 with Harry Bate twice making telling breaks before they moved it along the line for centre Tom Bramwell to finish off with Adamson converting, but right on the interval another Law penalty made it 6-10 at the break.

In the early minutes of the second period Blaydon were at sixes and sevens following the Ward dismissal and had no answer when home No8 Ollie Hodgson broke blind from a scrum to touch down. Law converted that effort and then kicked a 3rd penalty before Blaydon got themselves into a tangle behind their own posts and conceded a scrum from which Hodgson scored once more.

Law’s final contribution with the conversion took it to 23-10 but with victory in sight it all went wrong for them.

When Darlington illegally stopped a try being scored Blaydon kicked the penalty to touch and from a catch and drive Wearmouth went over. the Craig Willis conversion reducing the gap to 6 points, and in the final play of the game Blaydon produced an identical scenario with the Wearmouth/Willis combination securing a dramatic finale.

John Brennan