A late Warren Seals penalty clinches the win for Mowden
There were two extremes experienced at the Northern Echo in the National League One match at the Northern Echo Arena yesterday.
The first was the respectful two minutes silence observed by everyone present before the start of the game, after ‘The Last Post’ was heralded by the lone bugler in memory of those who had paid the ultimate sacrifice in past conflicts.
In complete contrast, the second was the deafening uproar from the Mowden supporters, as fly half Warren Seals sweetly and assuredly struck a penalty, which was the last kick of the game and which won the game for the home side after a brave fight back by the visitors.
Up until that moment, the scores were level at 19 – 19, which was a fair reflection of the game, with DMPRFC perhaps just deserving it at the end.
Plymouth Albion arrived in the North East, after stopping over in Wakefield, however from the first whistle, it appeared as though it was DMPRFC who were the away side, as the visitors got straight down to business, scoring a try in the third minute courtesy of hooker James SALTER, who profited from a typical catch and drive effort from the first lineout of the game, (0 – 5), converted by full back Matthew SHEPHERD. (0 – 7)
DMPRFC had hardly time to recover when Plymouth were over the try line again, this time after some excellent work by Jack ARNOTT, who benefitted from some confusion in the home ranks, to scoop up the ball on the half way line, chip the oncoming defender and gather the ball, outstripping the home defence for a score near the posts, (0 – 12), the afters unexpectedly missed by SHEPHERD.
Led by the uncompromising and experienced No. 8 Michael ‘Herbie’ STUPPLE, Plymouth Albion had come to Darlington to do a job and spark there otherwise slow start to the season back into life.
As the game settled after the initial possession monopoly by the visitors, DMPRFC began to exert pressure on the Plymouth line and, as Plymouth had started their scoring with a catch and drive lineout score, the home side replied in kind, with hooker Jamie Blamire dotting down for DMPRFC’s opener, (5 – 12), with fly half Warren Seals adding the conversion (7 – 12).
DMPRFC were exercising more control as the game edged towards the second quarter and it was no surprise when a lineout on one side of the pitch, was caught, driven forward and then after a couple of forward incursions, one in particular by home No. 8 Joe Craggs, moved out from centre field to flying winger Callum Mackenzie, to power through a defensive gap, diving over the try line to level the scores (12 – 12). The home side edged in front however, when SEALS added the conversion. (14 – 12)
There was still plenty of action to go as oranges loomed, however not on the scoreboard, but did involve two players who had scored tries for their respective teams.
First, Plymouth scorer Jack ARNOTT was yellow carded for an untimely tackle as he caught an opposition player in the air. Thankfully the result was not too serious, as the colour of the card may have been somewhat different.
Secondly, after a period of pressure by Plymouth on the home line, DMPRFC scorer Jamie Blamire was sent to ‘the cooler’ for bringing down a maul.
So at the interval, the scores were close and a decent second half tussle was anticipated by the large crowd in attendance, which was enhanced by local serving forces personnel and their esteemed ex-services compatriots.
On resumption of play, it was DMPRFC who struck for gold, when fullback Chris Georgiou, returning from International duty ran hard to get into the attacking line and saw enough of a gap to exploit it and dive over the line for the score.(19 – 12)
Unfortunately, Warren Seals missed the afters, but was to have a more vital role to play at the end of the game.
A kickable penalty was shunned by the home side, which would have seen them two scores ahead, but instead a kick to the corner was preferred, just at the time that they were becoming sloppy and losing lineouts, which they then proceeded to do..
From then on in, both sides battered away at their respective counterparts for the next thirty minutes, testing defences, which stood firm, until the last five minutes, when Plymouth deservedly drew level.
A series of set scrums on the home line saw Plymouth battering away at the home side, who stood firm until, from a prolonged period of pick and drives, replacement hooker David McGREGOR was driven over for a vital try, giving SHEPHERD the opportunity to level, which he did with aplomb (19 – 19).
There was still time for DMPRFC to have one final assault, which they doggedly hauled themselves into completing, attacking from their own half and into that of Plymouth’s. With only seconds remaining, Plymouth transgressed at the resulting maul and SEALS elected to take the kick.
Silence returned once again to the Arena until SEALS dissected the posts to secure the win as the final whistle heralded the end of the game. (22 – 19)