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Monday, 21 April 2014

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League leaders Mowden Park too strong for Penrith

Penrith came close to earning a losing bonus point at National Three North leaders Darlington Mowden Park.

Although they did not play particularly well they were within six minutes of a point, but eventually went down 27-13.

Darlington started the game like a top of the table side.

Brimming with confidence they ran the ball in hard, moved it well and their powerful forwards drove the first maul 20 maul.

The home side had most of the ball but Penrith stuck to their guns in defence and although the first up tackling lacked some conviction they managed to keep their line intact.

Remarkably it was the visitors who opened the scoring. On the rack and pinned back in their own 22 they looked vulnerable as the ball was moved down the home back line.

With an overlap wide out a high looped miss pass was thrown out. Phil Fell, on the Penrith wing, read the passer’s mind and took the interception between the last two men and from just outside his 22 made for the home line.

At one stage it looked as if he might be caught but he found a little more pace to outstrip the chasing defender. Steve Wood put the conversion over in front of the posts.

This early score did not phase the home side who obviously had belief in their own ability.

They continued to turn the screw and won a penalty in the Penrith 22.

They ran the first one but the visitor’s line held firm and when awarded a second they opted for the kick at goal and successfully ate into the lead.

They had a second penalty attempt which went wide before wave after wave of attack finally broke down the away defence and the home side had a one point advantage.

Although not playing as fluidly as they can Penrith plugged away and retook the lead with a Wood penalty when the home side snuffed out an attack from an offside position.

But Penrith have an unhappy habit of conceding tries on the stroke of half time and this game was no different. Phil Fell had just taken a nasty knock to the shoulder when an innocuous kick was put in behind him.

They were unable to clear the ball, lost possession and when the home side moved the ball they created an overlap on the left and scored the try to give themselves a 13-10 half time lead.

Darlington started the second half at break neck speed, immediately taking play to the Penrith line.

Although the Cumbrians defended the final five yards for all they were worth it was the missed tackles that allowed them to get to the line that were Penrith’s undoing.

Darlington’s power won them the try and it was the try either side of half time that swung the game.

Although not firing on all cylinders Penrith refused to lie down. Full-back Mike Hawley made several good runs but could not quite make it tell while captain Mike Raine was doing his best to be everywhere in defence and with ball in hand.

With 20 minutes to go Wood slotted a penalty when the home side were penalised on their own 22 and with the arrears at only seven points Penrith could have come away with a very valuable bonus point.

There were only six minutes left on the clock when the home centre disappointingly strode through the midfield without a hand being laid on him.

To their credit Penrith did finish the game on the attack and on the home line but they couldn’t just unpick the home defence as some big hits rained in.

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