A slow start to the second forty minutes left Leeds Tykes with just too much to do in a tussle full of grit and determination, which saw Mowden Park ease any immediate relegation fears.
The battle between two sides fighting for their lives in the lower reaches of national one was always going to be a dramatic affair.
Leeds, backed by a crowd of nearly 650, started the brighter and were rewarded for their efforts when Charlie Venables slotted a penalty on four minutes.
This sparked the visitors into life as Carl Guest touched down from close range to edge them in front seven minutes later. The conversion was missed, giving them a narrow two-point advantage.
The Leeds response was immediate, a mazy run from Kieran Davies, including some trademark sidesteps, laid the platform. The Welshman then showed great vision to spot Harry Jukes on his outside shoulder, who touched down unopposed. Venables added the extras to make it 10-5 after a pulsating first quarter.
DMP scored their second try, again unconverted, through Max Davies levelling the game at 10-10. Before the interval, both sides traded penalties to set up a blockbuster second half with honours even at the break.
Whatever DMP had in their halftime drinks appeared to do the trick. The Darlington side started as the hosts had done in the first. Their attack was ruthless, earning them a 14-point cushion within the first seven minutes of the second period. Matthew Minogue converted tries from Benjamin Frankland and Callum Mackenzie respectively.
Just before the hour mark Harry Jukes’ fine finish from a free-flowing move gave the Tykes hope. Former Mowden man Grayson Maguire thought he had restored parity with 14 minutes remaining; only for him and the rest of those with a Leeds connection to be left bereft as Venables attempted conversion sailed wide. The utility back was never given an opportunity to atone for his miscue and unfortunately that 2 point margin proved decisive.
Both teams went at it hammer and tong in the closing stages, visibly aware of the significance of the fixture in their respective seasons. However, neither side troubled the scoreboard operator and the ref called time at 25-27 in favour of our County Durham comrades.
Speaking after the game, Head Coach Jon Callard said: “There was a lot to be positive about in our performance and obviously there are areas we can improve. Considering some of the late changes we had to make to our line-up due to illness, those players who stepped in late deserve enormous credit.”
He added: “We have to move on quickly and get ready to go again next week.”