Mowden’s young second team travelled to Hartlepool Rovers for the relocated County Cup Final against Blaydon with high hopes, but were dealt a lesson in attacking rugby by very strong opponents in a torrid first half.
Blaydon’s early attacks were thwarted by some good scramble defence, but as soon as Mowden old boy, Paul Vinnicombe, opened the scoring with a typical back row burst on ten minutes, the outcome was assured.
Whilst tackling overall was determined and tenacious, the experienced Blaydon backs managed to find mismatches and open spaces however hard their opponents tried, and added further scores on 16, 18, 25 and 27 minutes. All were converted, so Mowden faced an impossible task at 35 – 0 down with more than half the game to play.
Typically, however, they refused to bow to adversity, and received the biggest cheer of the afternoon from a sizeable crowd when a penalty to the corner resulted in a textbook catch-and-drive try for blindside flanker, Darren Hoare, on 32 minutes.
Any remote chance of a comeback was immediately quashed by the ruthless Blaydon outfit, who went straight back onto the attack, scoring two further converted tries before the half-time whistle.
All rugby followers know that if a side is 49 – 5 down at the break, the second half is only going to get worse, so it was remarkable that the previously outclassed Mowden side managed to go onto the offensive during this period.
They began to boss the game territorially, and led by probing scrum-half, Lee Ratcliff, almost scored on a couple of occasions. Blaydon too had their chances, but Mowden definitely shaded the half, and were particularly unlucky not to score at least seven more points, when Adam Gardner picked up a loose ball and ran in under the sticks, only to be called back for an unfortunate ‘knock-on’ call by an unsighted official.
Obviously, any such score would have been no more than consolation, and Blaydon fully deserved their handsome Cup Final victory, but this young Mowden side again showed their spirit and potential for the future with a great second half performance.
There’s always next year!!!