COUNTY rugby comes to the fore tomorrow as both Northumberland and Durham kick off their Bill Beaumont Cup campaigns.
Formerly known as the County Championship, this season's competition sees Northumberland getting their three-game group programme under way with a trip to Lancashire at Vale of Lune RFC.
Tynedale players make up more than half of the starting XV, with Blaydon hooker Matt Hall skippering the side.
Blaydon prop Robbie Kalbraier and Tynedale’s David Dickinson complete the front-row, with all three having represented England Counties this season. Blaydon lock Shaun English is included after missing most of the SSE National One season with a broken arm, while Tynedale's Matthew Outson is preferred to club-mate Harry Peck at scrum-half.
Only two of Northumberland's starting XV come from outside of the dominant Blaydon and Tynedale ranks, with Percy Park fly-half Ash Smith included.
Darlington Mowden Park lock Chris Campbell is included at second row, while Percy Park captain John Scott is among the replacements.
Tomorrow's game is the first of three for Northumberland in Northern Division One, followed by an away date against Cheshire at Chester RFC on May 12 before the group stage comes to a climax against Yorkshire at Percy Park on May 19.
Durham's have just two games on the schedule as their Division Two campaign kicks off tomorrow at Blaydon against Warwickshire, with a 30-man squad having been named.
Blaydon are again well represented as Andrew Foster, Chris Wearmouth, Rob Bell, Paul Vinnicombe, Matthew Mellish, Andrew Baggett, Gavin Painter, Fraser Wilson and Tom Jeffrey are all selected, while ex-Blaydon player -coach Tom Rock is included despite now plying his trade with Otley in Yorkshire.
Northumberland (v Lancashire, away, Vale of Lune, tomorrow 2pm): H Smales (Tynedale), S Barber (Blaydon), C Harris, H Mountain, A Rogers (all Tynedale), A Smith (Percy Park), M Outson (Tynedale); R Kalbraier (Blaydon), M Hall (captain, Blaydon), D Dickinson (Tynedale), S English (Blaydon), C Campbell (Darlington Mowden Park), K Laughlin (Blaydon), J Cousins, S Shires (Tynedale). Replacements: A Harrison, S Ridley, A Westgarth (all Tynedale), B Bell (Morpeth), J Stephenson (Beverley), J Scott (Percy Park), H Peck (Tynedale), N Bailey (Gosforth).
Durham (v Warwickshire, home, Blaydon RFC, tomorrow 2pm) from: J Hallam (Durham University), R Appleby, Junior Fagalilo, A Wilson, D Dixon (all Darlington Mowden Park), A Foster, C Wearmouth, R Bell, P Vinnicombe, M Mellish, A Baggett, G Painter, F Wilson, T Jeffrey (all Blaydon), R Thirkell, J Clark (all Westoe), J Evans, C Hyndman, A Hyndman, P Evans (all Billingham), S Smith (Hartlepool Rovers), D Palmer (Horden), T Dixon (West Hartlepool), T Rock (Otley), S Brown (Ryton).