SUNDERLAND take on Novocastrians in a battle of the winless sides this weekend, but with the return of a formidable force in their armoury.
The big news for Sunderland supporters is the return to the first team of Sean Bellon, right, who is back at the club following a stint with Team Northumbria.
After a cameo appearance for the seconds last week, in which he scored two tries in half an hour, Bellon goes straight into the starting line-up at outside centre alongside Matt Goforth.
As well has his elusiveness with ball in hand, Bellon’s lethal boot will give Sunderland an added weapon in their opponents’ half.
The game was initially due to be played at Novos in Newcastle, but the bad weather last week damaged their posts, meaning their first team pitch is unplayable, so the game will now take place at Ashbrooke.
Sunderland name arguably their strongest line-up of the season for their first run out on Ashbrooke, as alongside the return of Bellon they also welcome back Greg Littlewood on the wing and Ross Finch at openside.
Andy Black picked up a knock against Hartlepool Rovers last week and with Ian Dobson also recovering from an ankle injury, both are named on the bench, subject to coming through training unscathed tonight.
Andy Hall makes his first appearance for the first team this year from the bench.
Sunderland seconds and thirds also face Novos sides, with Rob Stormont’s side playing at home too.
He names a squad, with the team to be finalised on the day.
Stormont includes three players who played for the firsts last week, with Terry Haley, Adam Reay and Ryan Buckley all adding strength to Stormont’s side.
Tony Watt’s third team will travel to Novos with a relatively unchanged squad, but with the addition of a couple of new faces.
Sunderland home to Novos, 1.15 meet: Robson, Harrison, Arrowsmith, Carter, Belfield, Drummond, Finch, Watt, Frances, Bains, Abraham, Goforth, Bellon, Littlewood, Walton. Reps: Hall, Black, Dobson.
Sunderland II at home to Novos II, 1.30 meet: Summers, Bengochea, Hirst, Buckley, Elstob, Smith, Grant, Marshall, Mackie, Fish, Penni, Reay, Haley, Brace, Geehan, Heffernan, Hinder, Jermy, Hands, Blackburn.
Sunderland III away to Novo’s III, 12.45 meet: Marshall, Wright, Deighton, Belfield, Turnbull, Jackson, Watson, Harrison, Richardson, Grainger, Wallace, Simpson, Graham, Gallimore, Ditchburn, Swann, Green, Groark, Pablo, Borthwick.
SEAHAM chase a third successive victory in Durham and Northumberland Division Three when they host Seghill on Saturday (3pm).
Since their opening derby defeat at Houghton, the Harbour lads have enjoyed success against Chester-le-Street and Sedgefield.
Houghton, meanwhile, entertain South Tyneside College at Dairy Lane.
H In Division One, Horden, eighth in the table despite two wins in three games, face a tricky trip to Gosforth.
H Durham City welcome Sheffield, 55-3 winners at Gateshead in their last visit to the North East, to Hollow Drift in North One East.