SUNDERLAND are out for revenge on Saturday as they go into the second half of the Durham and Northumberland Division Two campaign looking to avenge their early-season defeat to Redcar.
With the Ashbrooke men only two points behind leaders Ryton, a home win is vital to maintain the Wearsiders’ promotion push, but they know it will be tough against one of the few teams who have matched them up front this season.
On the selection front, Sunderland are again forced into a major reshuffle. Michael Brace is unavailable, so the versatile Gav Stirling steps in at scrum-half. He will partner fly-half Tom Townend, who continues to get better every week.
Harry Levison is named at inside centre, but he will face a late fitness test, while Dom Arkley moves in from the wing to start at outside centre in the continued absence of Matt Goforth, with Sammy Vaughan taking his place on the wing. Dan Abraham and Michael Heffernan complete the back three.
In the pack, Sunderland will be without Jake Belfield, who will be missing until after Christmas with a broken hand sustained against North Shields.
Belfield will be a huge miss given the likely battle up front against Redcar. In his place, John Drummond will switch from the back row to the second row. Andy Sumner slots in at six, with Brian Finlay making his first start since his return from injury on the open side.
Sunderland seconds are without a fixture, but Tony Watt’s third team face a trip to Gosforth.
Sunderland I (home to Redcar, meet 1.0, KO 2.15): Martinez, Harrison, Ross, Carter, Drummond, Sumner, Finlay, Watt, Stirling, Townend, Vaughan, Levison, Arkley, Vaughan, Heffernan. Reps: Geehan, Wordsworth, O’Donovan
Sunderland III (away to Gosforth, meet 12.0, KO 2.15): Marshall, Edmundson, Turnbull, Andy, Jackson, Harrison, Cogden, Richardson, Grainger, Clinton, Kaz, Wallace, Forster, Ditchburn, Hirst, Watson, Finch, Fish, Green, Murphy, Mackie, Kyle, Garvie
H In Division One, table-topping Horden entertain lowly Gosforth, while Durham City – third in the table, just three points behind Horden – welcome second-bottom Novos to Hollow Drift.
H Second-top Seaham are away to Richmondshire in Division Three, while Houghton host leaders South Tyneside College at Dairy Lane and second-bottom Washington have a derby trip to fourth-placed Chester-le-Street.