Tynedale are boosted by the return of Matty Outson and Stuart Johnson for tomorrow’s National One relegation crunch tie with Cinderford.
The Gloucestershire outfit are currently third from bottom in the final of the three drop spots, but with two games in hand on all of their fellow strugglers.
Tynedale sit six points and three places above them going into the Corbridge clash, chairman of rugby John Shotton stating: “It is a big game for us, and nearly as big a game for them. You can always argue the toss with games in hand as to whether you are better having a certain number of points in the bank or the potential for more with games yet to be played.
“I don’t think it is so much Cinderford in the equation for relegation, I see it more as Henley, Loughborough Students and Worthing. They are all below us having played the same number of games, so in terms of how we do in relation to those sides it is all in our own hands.
“We make it hard for ourselves, and at 58 minutes last week against Hull Ionians we were 21-14 down. We scored three tries inside six minutes to turn it round, but we put ourselves into a difficult position.”
Outson returns to the squad after a month out with a shoulder injury, Johnson recalled due to Newcastle Falcon Harrison Collins going off injured in last weekend’s victory. Sep Visser is in Holland at a wedding, Stephen Ridley starting at hooker as David Nelson battles thumb ligament trouble.
Fifth-placed Blaydon make the 680-mile round trip to Worthing with Jonny Burn starting at scrum-half in place of Andrew Davies, and centre Tommy Banks taking the place of Tom Bramwell.
Both changes are part of Micky Ward’s rotation policy, the director of rugby recalling himself to a bench which also sees Keith Laughlin back from a hand injury and fellow lock Shaun English returning from international 7s duty with Barbados. Ward said: “We have had two wins on the bounce and been playing pretty well, even though we struggled across the line a little bit last weekend. We have a decent side out at Worthing, and if we don’t win then it is our own fault. No excuses.”
Darlington Mowden Park are hoping to maintain a foothold in the National Two North promotion race when they play host to Yorkshire visitors Otley, determined to bounce back from last weekend’s loss at title rivals Stourbridge. Winger Chris McTurk is replaced by Lewis Johnston due to injury, co-coach Danny Brown saying: “Last weekend was a bit of a dent but, looking at the results and what we have to do, it is still in our own hands.
“We have just got to do it the hard way now.
“Otley are an up-and-down side, and we are going with pretty much a settled team from last week.
“People might say the pressure is now on us to get those five-pointers, but on the flip side we know exactly what is required and that there is no room at all for errors. We have just got to go for it.”
Ryton could clinch the Durham and Northumberland Two title as they visit second-placed Whitley Bay Rockliff, while in National Three North Percy Park aim to stay afloat in the division when leaders Stockport visit.
Tight-head George Purdy captains the side with Michael Langlands having broken a rib during the week in training, director of rugby Thomas Turnbull starting at fly-half and Jimmy Ponton coming in at No 8.
Coach Ed Midcalf said: “We have been playing some good rugby at home lately, and our task is to improve that further.
“We have a good set-piece and solid defence, so hopefully we can get ourselves into some good positions. We have been encouraging the boys all week to play heads-up rugby, and with ambition, and the firmer pitches should help us.”