DARLINGTON Mowden Park’s storming start to life in National Two North faces its toughest test when they travel to leaders Stourbridge on Saturday struggling with a shortage of back-row players.
Last weekend’s 40-22 home win over Otley made it nine successive wins for a Mowden side beaten at Preston on opening day, although the victory came at a cost.
Open-side flanker Luke Wishnowsky and blind-side Rory Duff are both doubtful for Saturday’s trip due to groin injuries, while England under-18 international Guy van den Dries is playing for Yorkshire Under-20s.
“Saturday will be a great challenge for our lads but we will not treat it differently to any other game,” said Danny Brown who, along with John Newton, has taken joint charge of first-team affairs for the past two seasons.
“A lot of people are building it as the game of the week and Stourbridge’s biggest test so far, but we are not really hyping it up too much.
“We will stay over the night before just to give ourselves the best preparation possible, but for us it is just another game and another good test. Stourbridge are the team everyone is talking about and you can understand why when they have taken maximum points from their 10 games so far.
“They have a strong tight five which is a good foundation for them and they have taken a few players from Rugby Lions.”
Delighted by his side’s efforts against Otley last weekend, Brown added : “It was the best rugby we have seen so far this season.
“We were 40-5 up before they came back into it a little towards the end, but we played parts of that period with just 12 men on the field due to injuries and a sin-binning for van den Dries.
“We are not a bad side, but we will take it each week and just move onto the next one.
“We will see how Stourbridge are on Saturday and, despite being third at the moment, we know that can change with one defeat if the teams below us gain decent wins.
“We could soon be in eighth, ninth or tenth within two weeks, and you only have to look at a quality side like Bromsgrove being third from bottom to know how quickly things can change.”
Noticing a big leap in standard after his side’s emphatic domination of National Three North last season, Brown added: “There is a big jump up in size and intensity.
“The biggest difference we have noticed from last year is when you make a mistake you are generally punished for it, whereas in National Three North you could get away with a lot more.
“Our lads were quick enough to rectify a lot of their own errors last season, but what they are finding a level up is teams are hot on capitalising on errors.”
Keen for his side to express themselves, the former prop added: “All we have said to the lads is they are all good players and they should just go out and play.
“Some teams get bogged down in tactics and intricate systems, but at the end of the day the Mowden lads just love playing.
“They love representing the club, playing rugby with a smile on their face and looking to attack.
“We have a cracking set of lads and when they on their game I would back them against any side in this league or even the league above.
“That is not just me being arrogant – that is how good some of them are.”