IN these days of sleek and speedy front row forwards who could double as backs, Tynedale’s Dan Lowdon is a hooker of the old school.

At 33, he is approaching the veteran stage, and his appearances for Tynedale first XV tend to be cameos from the bench these days.

But on Saturday, an injury to regular number two Dave Batey saw crowd favourite “Lowdy” not only start the game against Preston Grasshoppers, but also score two tries in a man of the match performance.

His line-out throwing was also immaculate, and he put in some thumping tackles to help steer Tynedale to their first home victory of the season which took them to fifth place in National League Division Two North.

But there was little in the way of celebration, as the game was marred by what appeared to be a serious neck injury to Preston’s former Rugby League international centre Alex Hurst.

Hurst remained motionless face down on the turf after a tackle as the rain lashed down, and when he failed to respond to early treatment referee Ben Davis took the players off.

The game was held up for more than half an hour before Hurst was stretchered off on a spinal board to await the arrival of an ambulance.

Happily, the feeling was starting to return to his limbs before the ambulance arrived,and while he was taken to hospital. he was not detained.

As well as Lowdon’s heroics, it was a good day for Tynedale fly half Jake Rodgers, who helped himself to a total of 21 points, with a try, two penalties and four conversions.

The driving rain meant the game was never going to be a classic, with the forwards slugging it out for much of the game. Players struggled to keep their feet on the slippery turf and chances were few in the opening period.

The Tynedale forwards were well on top in both tight and loose, but it was Preston who enjoyed territorial advantage for the opening period, although they lacked a cutting edge.

The deadlock was finally broken on 13 minutes, when Preston strayed offside, and Rodgers landed the 35-metre penalty. Then came the injury to Hurst, and on resumption, Rodgers hit his second penalty following a scrummaging offence.

Worst was to follow for the Hoppers when centre James Fitzpatrick was yellow carded for a very high tackle, and from the penalty line-out , the Tynedale forwards trundled over the line, with Lowdon getting the touchdown, close to the posts for Rodgers to convert.

Ten minutes later, a hopeful hack through was chased down by Rodgers, who converted his own try to give Tynedale a comfortable 20-0 lead at the end of a first half which had lasted a remarkable 72 minutes.

Because of the lengthy delay, the teams turned straight round at the interval, conscious of the gathering gloom and the fact Tynedale do not have floodlights.

The Hoppers should have scored within three minutes from a clever chip, but the ball was fumbled close to the line.

They had to wait until the hour mark before opening their account when a good scrum allowed full back Jordan Dorrington to score an unconverted try wide out.

Tynedale came back strongly and good work by the forwards close to the line set up skipper Matty Outson for the third try, converted by Rodgers.

Deep into injury time, a penalty was kicked to touch five metres from the Preston line. The ball was won, the drive applied, and there was Lowdon getting the touchdown to secure the bonus point.

Rodgers conversion brought proceedings to a close.

Tynedale travel to nearest rivals Wharfedale on Saturday. The Yorkshiremen have won four of their opening seven games, while Tynedale have won only three. But fifth placed Tynedale have accrued eight bonus points - the highest total in the league - and have 22 points. Eighth placed Wharfedale’s 18.