1st XV Match Preview V Darlington Mowden Park (A) Sat 29/10/2016 

by Glyn Barlow

This week the Birmingham Moseley team make one of their longest journeys of the National One campaign, with the 350 round trip to County Durham to take on Darlington Mowden Park.

The key question will be which team will be travelling north? The one who blew away Old Albanians in the first half last Saturday racing to a 42-7 half time lead, or the team that struggled and “lost” the second half 14-26?

While credit should be given for Old Albanian for a spirited second half performance equally there must be frustration in the red & black camp as to how the team managed to take their foot off the accelerator. Clearly this Saturday against a team firmly established mid table there cannot be the luxury of switching off mid game and still bringing home a win.

A relatively young club DMP came into being in 1950 as Darlington Grammar School Old Boys RFC, becoming an open club 21 years later. Playing on the school playing fields until the early 70s, the club moved to Yiewsley Drive, changed their name to Mowden Park RFC and began a programme of development, building clubhouse, stand etc. Recently the club underwent a further name change becoming Darlington Mowden Park (not to be confused with Darlington RFC) to reflect their association with the town of Darlington.

In 2013 the club made what is perhaps its most historic move yet when they relocated to the 25,000 seat Darlington Arena, set in 27 acres of land, the former home of Darlington Football Club. The ground was purchased for £2M, proceeds of the sale of Yiewsley Drive for housing more than covering the cost.

On the playing front Mowden Park enjoyed a rapid rise through the leagues before settling in National Three North (Now National Two North). During this period their most impressive feat was to reach the quarter finals of the Tetley Bitter Cup to play Harlequins at the Stoop.

The club won promotion to National One in 2014 by winning a playoff match against Ampthill. In their first season of National One rugby they achieved a very creditable 9th place finish, winning 13 of their 30 games. Last season DMP continued to push upwards finishing in 6th place winning nearly 2/3 of their matches.

This season the team have secured wins over Blaydon (15-14), Ampthill (20-39), Cambridge (37-12) and Old Albanian (22-9). Apart from an opening weekend loss to Hull Ionians (16-10) all other defeats have come in October Rosslyn Park (36-16), Plymouth Albion (39-3) and last weekend Loughborough Students (29-14). So we can expect they will be focussed on closing out the month in a more positive manner.

During the summer DMP brought in a number of new players including fly half/full back Tom Putt, South African front row James Penman & South African back row Dave Fisher all from Plymouth Albion, South African second row Myles Tucker from Boland (SA), back Joel Gill from Rotherham and Canadian International back row Matt Heaton.

A face who will be very familiar to Birmingham Moseley supporters will be fly half Caolan Ryan who made the move from Coventry last season. So far this season Caolan is the league’s second highest points scorer with 73 to his name. Caolan is alos DMP’s leading try scorer with 4 alongside Falcons dual registered Argentinian hooker Santiago Socino.

Clearly Birmingham Moseley will have been focussing in training on the areas that didn’t go so well on Saturday, particularly on maintaining a 100% focus of attention to ensure there are no soft tries scored against them. If they can maintain the first half performance from Saturday for the full 80 minutes then they are capable of securing another important win.