by John Butler
THE long-awaited second at home to first clash is finally due to happen this Saturday, the pity in a way is that it clashes with a major Six Nations weekend.
The reason for that, of course, is that the Northern Echo Arena was frost-bound when the fixture was originally due to take place back in December.
Since then, Coventry have built an even larger lead at the top of National League One; now 21 points following the home win over Cambridge with Darlington Mowden Park going down away at Plymouth Albion. A result which saw them not even pick up a bonus point.
Darlington MP proudly hold a 100 per cent home record to date, having won all their ten matches. Their Achilles heel to some extent has been form away from home, which has brought about their four defeats.
Cov, therefore, will travel north east in the knowledge that, to extend their points difference even further, they will need to be right on top of their game, if the hosts’ long unbeaten home run is to be dented.
The link with Newcastle Falcons has remained strong for DMP, several of their players emanating from the Premiership club on a dual registration basis. It would seem from looking at recent reports that a number of them have been available recently, so it is reasonable to surmise that Cov will face them on Saturday.
Warren Seals at fly-half or centre, previously with Yorkshire Carnegie, tops the scoring list at just past 120, followed by Brett Connon on 68 and player-coach Garry Law with just over 60. Winger Callum Mackenzie, who has also featured on the flank previously, tops the try list with 12 while Grant Connon has nine and Seals eight.
Looking at their ten home wins this season, the closest call for DMP was against Plymouth Albion (33-31) back in October, Albion of course gaining their revenge last Saturday at home. The two biggest wins in terms of points difference at the Arena came against Birmingham Moseley and Old Albanian.
Having equalled the 21 league wins achieved by the 2014/15 squad with last week’s victory over Cambridge, Cov and their trusty band of away support will travel in good heart, but certainly anticipating a tough match.
This will be the fourth visit to the ground. Previous games have brought two defeats, then the exciting 20-20 draw last season.
With 928 points now accumulated from the 22 games played, the squad is still averaging over 42 points per game and are also now just 74 points short of passing the 1,001 club league record in a season, also set three years ago.
There is also the little matter of 141 tries scored with several players, led by James Stokes, competing for who finishes first at the end of this extraordinary season.
The Supporter’s Club is laying on a coach for the long trek, so please contact them urgently if you are looking to travel but have not yet confirmed a seat.
Darlington’s highest gate so far this season is 1,122, with an average of 875. Kick-off is 2pm.
Yes, it is a Six Nations weekend, but one wonders even bearing that in mind whether the hosts, with the Cov travelling support, might still just surpass their previous best.