SUNDERLAND will battle to save their season from continuuing downhill when they entertain Stockton on Saturday, hoping to avoid yet another humiliating defeat.
After a promising start to the year the wheels came off in February and things have continued in a similar fashion since.
Despite brief glimpses of good rugby in recent weeks Sunderland know that a vastly improved display for the full 80 minutes will be required if they are to get anything at all out of the weekend’s game.
As seems to have been the way in recent weeks, Sunderland are forced into a number of changes and give a first-team debut to yet another young player, with Lewis Swann stepping up to take a place in the squad, replacing Matt Francis, who was injured in last week’s game.
Sunderland’s front row is bolstered by the return of Richard Arrowsmith and Alan Ross, while Andy Turnbull also retains his place in the side.
Andy Mackie comes into the back row to replace Andy Black, who is unavailable.
The seconds and thirds are again squeezed by call-ups to the firsts and any available players not named are urged to meet at the club for 1.15pm. The seconds are still awaiting a fixture while the thirds travel to local rivals Durham City.
Sunderland at home to Stockton, 1.30pm meet.
Team From: Mackie, Wordsworth, Elstob, Carter, Arrowsmith, Abraham, Littlewood, Watt, Harrison, Turnbull, Dobson, Walton, Bains, Lewandowski, Swann, Matthews, Ross, Belfield.
Sunderland II meet 1.15pm: Summers, Begochea, Geehan, Fish, Carter, Reay, Gaul, Haley, Brace, Hinder, Heffernan, Jermy, Hands, Ditchburn.
Sunderland III away to Durham City meet 1.15pm: Marshall, Wright, Edmundson, Belfield, Collins, Gallimore, Watson, Harrison, Richardson, Grainger, Tosi, Simpson, Logan, Turner, Porter. rep: Groark