Big test for Sunderland

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THE season can hardly end quickly enough for Sunderland after a long struggle.

They face another tough away trip this weekend with promotion-chasing Stockton the opponents.

Nothing other than a bonus point victory will be good enough for Stockton as they chase a play-off spot behind league leaders Darlington.

Sunderland, on the other hand, will be hoping to avoid an eighth straight defeat.

A number of changes are made to last week’s side with Tom Townend the only player retained from last week’s backline.

Matt Goforth and Matt Francis are unavailable so Townend reverts to the centres alongside Jamie Maclennan, who returns after three weeks out.

Sam Vaughan comes in at fly-half and partners Mark Henry who is at scrum-half.

Dan Abraham starts on the wing with Sam Jordan at full-back.

In the forwards, there are two changes with Jake Belfield coming into the side in place of Pete Carter and Ryan Buckley replaces Dave Robson in the front row.

The seconds and thirds are both awaiting confirmation of fixtures and all players are asked to keep an eye on the club website for further information.

Sunderland away to Stockton, meet 1pm: Buckley, Harrison, Arrowsmith, Belfield, Wordsworth, Reay, Arrowsmith, Watt, Henry, Vaughan, Abraham, Maclennan, Townend, Arkley, Jordan. Reps: Hall. Mackie, Fish.