Ashbrooke take on the new boys

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Sunderland face league new boys Acklam in a mid-table Durham and Northumberland Division One clash at Ashbrooke on Saturday.

Acklam have had a good start to the season and find themselves sitting in sixth place and have recorded some good results and Sunderland are currently 10th after a string of frustrating performances.

Sunderland will be hoping they cut out the mistakes and continue to play the style of attacking rugby they demonstrated in parts last weekend against Alnwick.

However, they have been without a number of key players in recent matches and this weekend proves no different as they will be without influential captain Martin Watt who was injured last weekend, which means Andy Mackie will fill in at number 8.

John Drummond and Andy Wordsworth are also still nursing injuries and Ross Finch is unavailable resulting in a call up for Adam Reay to start on the blindside flank.

Sunderland will also hope that their backline won’t need any last-minute changes after unavailability and injuries has forced them to play with players out of position for the past few weeks.

Guy Kingsley-Smith and Tom Townend return to the starting side at fly half and inside centre respectively, meaning Sean Bellon moves back to the wing and Sam Vaughan drops to the bench.

Acklam have lost two on the bounce, including a 42-8 loss to Alnwick, so Sunderland will take confidence from their result against the same opposition last weekend.

Sunderland II are away to Seaham as they hope to improve on last weekend’s close encounter with Houghton while Sunderland III take on Middlesbrough at home.

Sunderland I (home v Acklam, meet 12.45pm): Robson, Harrison, Arrowsmith, Elstob, Belfield, Reay, Black, Mackie, Francis, Kingsley-Smith, Henry, Townend, Goforth, Bellon, Littlewood, Reps: Buckley, Carter, Vaughan

Sunderland II (away v Seaham, meet 12.30pm): Summers, Hall, Geehan, Bengochea, Smith, Gaul, Fish, Penni, Reynoldson, Arrowsmith, Brace, Haley, Heffernan, Hinder, O’Donovan, Bain, Hands, Blackburn, Jermy, Tolley

Sunderland III (home v Middlesbrough, meet 1pm): D Marshall, Wright, Brown, Belfield, Turnbull, Edmundson, S Marshall, Jackson, Richardson, Grainger, Garrimore, Simpson, Graham, Watson, Ditchburn, Deighton, Harrison, Green, Towers, Clinton.