By Jamie Arrowsmith Thursday 07 February 2013 Updated: 07/02 17:07
Darlington Mowden Park 62 Bromsgrove 7
National Two North
WHETHER it was the sense of occasion at Darlington Mowden Park’s new stadium that overawed Bromsgrove or not will probably never be known, but the final scoreline was in stark contrast to the fine and complete performance produced at Stourbridge two weeks earlier.
Local media coverage had been high in the run up to Saturday, a day which saw the inaugural game take place in the former Darlington FC’s 25,000 all-seater stadium - The Northern Echo Arena.
Admittedly it was far from full and many wondered why they needed such a place given their average attendance this season being a meagre 418, but a deal has been struck, a sound business plan drawn up and the crowd for the day - that included civic dignitaries and founding members of the club - swelled to three times that number. Small in football terms but pretty big at this level of rugby.
Bromsgrove found themselves on the back foot from the outset and conceded a second minute try to Lewis Johnson.
That score led to a flood of converted tries which gave the hosts an unimaginable 28-0 lead in less than 20 minutes. The visitors were stunned, but unbowed.
Gradually they began to fight their way into the game, stifling the home side’s speedy backs of possession before setting up camp on Darlington’s try line.
That attack was eventually cleared but Bromsgrove came forward again and were rewarded with Paul Norris crossing the whitewash and Jon Critchlow converting to cut the gap to 28-7 at half time.
The second half began as the first one ended and it was crucial that Bromsgrove got another early score to keep their momentum going, but the home side had other ideas.
They refused to let Bromsgrove breach their defences again and once they had turned over the ball in the 47th minute, Grant Connon sprinted clear to go in under the posts.
It became a bit of a rout from that point and the inevitable result was a humiliating defeat for Bromsgrove as Darlington freely turned ball over and easily outpaced all but a few defenders.
Bromsgrove returned home licking their wounds with thoughts soon turning to tomorrow’s rearranged home fixture against rivals Luctonians this Saturday.
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