Levinson lifts Ashbrooke

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SUNDERLAND face another tough task this weekend as they look to get back on track in Durham and Northumberland Division Two.

After last week’s bitterly disappointing defeat to Ashington, things don’t get any easier this week with the heavily-fancied Ryton making the trip to Ashbrooke.

Sunderland, down to third place after the loss to lowly Ashington, are desperate for a win to close the gap on the top two and, with that in mind, the return of several key members of their backline is a huge boost.

Harry Levinson returns at 12 to partner Matt Goforth in the centres, with Tom Townend looking to provide a creative spark at stand-off against the second-top visitors.

Gav Stirling also returns from injury to partner Townend at half-back, while Michael Heffernan moves to full-back.

Dom Arkley is another returning from injury and Sammy Vaughan returns after being unavailable last week. Both take up their positions on the wing.

In the pack, Bryan Finlay is unavailable once again through injury and his spot is taken by youngster Joe Arrowsmith. Martin Watt is restored to the pack at number eight, after having a run-out in the centres last week, with Jake Belfield slotting into the second row.

Alan Ross is rewarded for a couple of good performances for the seconds and comes into the side in the front row, with Chris Geehan dropping down to the bench alongside James Hanson.

Elsewhere, Sunderland seconds and thirds both face trips away to Ryton.

Sunderland I (home to Ryton, meet 1pm): Martinez, Harrison, Ross, Carter, Belfield, Drummond, Arrowsmith, Watt, Stirling, Townend, Arkley, Levinson, Goforth, Vaughan, Heffernan. Reps: Geehan, Hanson

Sunderland II (away to Ryton, meet noon): Buckley, Edmundson, Hirst, Fish, Parker, Marshall, Reay, Cogdon, Brace, Blackburn, Hands, Bevand, Wallace, Hinder, Brebner, Finch, Coleman, Cowans

Sunderland III (away to Ryton, meet noon): Marshall, Stevenson, Turnbull, Belfield, Andy, Sika, Bute, Green, Curley, Harrison, Grainger, Watson, Clinton, Richardson, Turner, Gallimore, Ditchburn, Graham, Deighton

H Durham City, beaten by table-topping Blyth last week, are away to Bishop Auckland in Division One, while fourth-top Horden visit second-bottom Ponteland, who have won just twice this season.

H Leaders Seaham entertain second-bottom Washington at Seaham Leisure Centre in the Third Division on Saturday, while Houghton, sitting in sixth place, have the long trip to Richmondshire.