DARLINGTON Mowden Park marked their first game in the town’s arena with a 62-7 thumping of Bromsgrove, watched by an estimated 1,500 supporters.
Five tries from flying winger Shaun McArtney, including three in the last 10 minutes, made it a day to remember on and off the field – Mowden keeping pace with their promotion rivals ahead of this weekend’s second-v-third visit of Hull Ionians.
Making full use of the vast playing expanses on a wide former football field they had the bonus point inside 20 minutes.
Lewis Johnson dived in for an historic first try at the venue. Chris McTurk, Craig Dominic and McArtney assured maximum points as fly-half Grant Connon found holes in the midfield defence, South African scrum-half Zylon McGaffin driving the tempo and steering them round the park before McArtney’s late try glut.
Westoe’s home date with fellow strugglers Birmingham Solihull saw a pair of bonus points taken from a 34-31 defeat.
Tries from Richie Thirkell, Dan Rundle, Chris Judson and David Haswell, added to an earlier penalty try, leaves them 16 points adrift from safety. In National One, Blaydon regained winning ways with a 36-31 home win over Wharfedale.
Newcastle Falcons’ scrum-half Jordi Pasqualin was among their four try-scorers after getting 50 minutes from the bench.
The five-point haul keeps them second in the table.
Tynedale left Coventry empty-handed after two tries from Chris Harris and one from Andrew Harrison were not enough in a 29-19 defeat.
In National Three North Billingham increased the pressure on struggling West Hartlepool as two tries from lock Dan Burns contributed to a 34-7 home win, while Percy Park’s slim promotion hopes faded with a 23-15 defeat at Rossendale.
Gateshead’s 34-3 home win over Consett moved them to third in Durham and Northumberland One, Bishop Auckland’s 53-0 rout of Hartlepool keeps them top in Division Two and Hartlepool BBOB are number one in the third division thanks to a 24-3 victory at Richmondshire.
In women’s rugby, two tries from Newcastle’s Sarah Hunter helped England open their Six Nations account with a 76-0 drubbing of Scotland, while South Shields’ Katy McLean was part of an England squad winning the first-ever IRB World Sevens Series event in Houston, Texas.