Shellshocked Sunderland have been challenged to bounce back from last Saturday’s narrow, last-ditch defeat to Whitley Bay Rockcliff when they host Gosforth at Ashbrooke tomorrow (2.15pm).
Fourth-placed Sunderland are still smarting after losing by two points to runaway league leaders Rockcliff in the dying minutes of their Durham and Northumberland Two clash.
Gosforth are fifth, six points behind the Wearsiders, and could face a backlash as the home side look to secure a bonus-point win in a fixture dating back over 100 years.
Sunderland are due to host Northallerton in the National Cup next week, but face a fixture reshuffle should the game be shelved, with the North Yorkshire side already through to the next round.
For now though, all focus is on Gosforth.
Sunderland club chairman Paul Geehan said: “We’re still waiting on that (Northallerton) fixture, but it would be a pointless one as they are already through.
“Looking at Saturday, it won’t be an easy game, although Gosforth haven’t been doing too well lately.
“The first 20 minutes will decide the outcome of the match. They have a strong backline, but their forwards tend to tire.
“We are looking to dominate the lineout and their pack, and let our backs loose.”
Geehan added: “There are no injuries from last weekend and the lads feel confident going into this weekend.
“They were shellshocked to lose out to Rockcliff and were, frankly, unlucky to lose. Gosforth could face a reaction from that match and we should take the bonus point.”
Elsewhere, five of Sunderland’s U15 squad have made Durham County’s final age-grade training group, following a three-way festival at Kingston Park last Sunday against Northumberland and Cumbria.
Josh Jobling, Adam Williams, Vincent Hessell, James May and David Matloch are all through, ahead of final selection at Ryton on March 3.
*Sunderland U10s came out victorious against a valiant Blaydon side at Ashbrooke. Sunderland scored a number of tries with great performances from Oliver Miller and Kieran Richardson. Player-of-the-match Ethan White put in an all-round, all-action display with his usual bravery.