We had led for almost the entire second half and looked favourites to win when a Stu Waites penalty put us 15-6 up with fifteen minutes to play. But a couple of lapses in an otherwise terrific defensive display allowed Park back in and as teams in the habit of winning often do, they found a way to get that victory.
The conclusion was strikingly similar to the return fixture back in December when we were pressing hard on the line in the dying minutes but couldn’t find the crucial score. Mowden showed us how it should be done with centre Cameron Mitchell sliding through half a gap in the covering defence for the levelling try and then Tom Hodgson swerving his conversion through the uprights.
Despite the devastating manner of the loss we can take much encouragement from our performances against a side who have ran away with the league this season. Over two games we have lost by a combined total of 7 points and with Mowden’s points difference currently at +526 with one game to play it’s easy to see that not many other teams have gotten so close.
One record that will almost certainly belong to Park is the fastest points scored this season at Brinkburn with Zylon McGaffin’s audacious long range drop goal coming after just 26 seconds!
The early points didn’t rattle us and we had the lead ourselves after just 3 minutes. Andy Cheslin bust through a couple of tackles in midfield and when the ball was moved wide Scott Butcher finished well in the left corner for the game’s opening try.
Tom Hodgson kicked Mowden back in front on 10 minutes after skipper Junior Fagalilo was dragged down just short of the line but then missed two very kickable penalties on 23 and 27 minutes despite having the strong breeze at his back. It left the half-time score at 6-5 to the visitors with the game living up to its billing of a tightly contested derby.
Having scored early in the first half we did it again in the second with some great support play leading to a try for Adam Coates. Good defensive work put pressure on Hodgson on the edge of his 22 and when he spilt the ball we worked it well through numerous sets of hands before Coates popped up to cross the line. Waites conversion stretched the lead to 6 and now playing into the wind Park were struggling to get any possession or territory.
Waites’ penalty on 27 minutes gave us that crucial two-score lead but we seemed to switch off straight after the restart and within two minutes flanker Tom Schofield was storming through for a Park try which narrowed the gap once again.
Waites did slot another penalty to keep our noses in front but as time ticked down the pressure from the visitors intensified. A couple of times a try looked on the cards but some last ditch defence kept them out until we were stretched as the ball came to the left from a scrum and Mitchell cut inside to finish well. Having missed a couple of straightforward kicks with the wind in the first half it seemed inevitable Hodgson would step up to nail the more difficult kick into the elements and he obliged, cueing celebrations on and off the field. The reaction from the Mowden players showed the win was far from meaningless and whilst they may already be in possession of the league trophy but their two wins over West have been far from easy.
West: C Cheslin, Butcher, A Cheslin, Watson, Edwards, Waites, G Foreman, Wood (Carr 40), A Dixon, Coates, Davies (Eddy 40), T Dixon, D Boatman, J Boatman, Sotckdale.
Tries: Butcher, Coates
Pens: Waites 2
Mowden Park: M Connon, Shepherd, Mitchell, Peace, Lithgo, Hodgson, McGaffin, Appleby, Fagalilo, Miller, Young, Campbell, Schofield, McAulay, Dixon.
Reps: Strong, Whinn, Harrison
Tries: Schofield, Mitchell
Cons: Hodgson 2
Referee: Dean Lythgoe [North Group]