A second attempt at Rovers return

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IT will be a case of try, try again for Sunderland this weekend as they attempt to take on Hartlepool Rovers on Saturday, after the fixture was postponed before Christmas.

Sunderland make just two changes from the squad that was named for the Durham Northumberland Division One fixture against Ponteland, which also fell victim to the weather last week.

Michael Walton and Sam Vaughan are unavailable, so Matt Goforth returns to the first-team squad for the first time in two months on the wing, while Mark Henry returns from his holidays to replace Vaughan at scrum-half.

The game against the league’s early season pace-setters should be a good marker to how much Sunderland have improved over the season, after they were comprehensively outplayed by the Friaragemen in the opening game of the season.

Since that day, Sunderland’s performances have noticeably improved, with confidence running high following their victory over Novos in their first game of the New Year and an impressive victory over Medicals to also boast of.

However, Hartlepool will be a much sterner task for the Ashbrooke side, even though Rovers saw their form dip in the weeks before Christmas.

They lost three of their last six games, giving Sunderland hope they may be able to record a win over Rovers for the first time in many years.

Sunderland seconds were the only Sunderland side to get a game last week and will look to build on their dominant performance against Westoe thirds when they meet Jarrovians.

Rob Stormont again has a large squad to pick from, including a number of colts, who got their first taste of senior rugby last week.

The third team face a tough league double header away to Morpeth, with seven points on offer to the victors.

Sunderland home to Hartlepool Rovers, meet 1pm: Robson, Harrison, Arrowsmith, Carter, Belfield, Finch, Arrowsmith, Watt, Henry, Dobson, Jordan, Townend, Bellon, Goforth, Littlewood. Reps Buckley, Elstob, Francis

Sunderland II away to Jarrovians, meet 12.30: Hall, Geehan, Bengochea, Summers, Fish, Wordsworth, Cogden, Drummond, Reay, Dogoda, Edmundson, Mackie, Matthews, Evans, Brace, Heff, Tolley, O’Donovan, Roberts, Jermy, Hands, Gilberts, Wardle.

Sunderland III away to Morpeth, meet 12.15: D. Marshall, Wright, Turnbull, Belfield, Jackson, S.Marshall, Harrison, Hogg, Richardson, Grainger, Garrimore, Graham, Duff, Swanney, Jones, Deighton, Peel, Hurst, Fish, Cowans, Clinton.