Sunderland fully refreshed for Wallsend clash

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SUNDERLAND face the first of three consecutive home games on Saturday with Wallsend the visitors to Ashbrooke in Durham and Northumberland Division Two.

After a weekend off, the Wearsiders are almost at full strength with only Ian Dobson and Matt Goforth missing, both with hand injuries.

The main decisions to be made for the selectors this week was in the front row, with six players vying for four first-team spots.

Damion Martinez was given the nod at loose head, with Alan Ross at tight head and Pete Harrison at hooker. Chris Geehan’s ability to cover both prop and hooker meant that he gets the nod on the bench.

Ryan Buckley and Grant Edmundson can feel themselves unlucky to be dropping down to the seconds, but both will look to impress against Consett and prove their first-team credentials.

Elsewhere, the pack remains unchanged with Bryan Finlay having recovered from a groin strain and Jake Belfield’s ankle injury also benfiting from a week’s rest.

In the backline, Gavin Stirling and Sammy Vaughan make up the half-back pairing in an unchanged line-up from the victory over Seaton Carew 12 days ago.

Sunderland seconds travel to Consett looking to build on successive victories, while the thirds visit Wallsend.

Sunderland I (home to Wallsend, meet 1.30pm): Martinez, Harrison, Ross, Carter, Belfield, Drummond, Finlay, Watt, Stirling, Vaughan, Arkley, Levinson, Townend, Abraham, Heffernan. Reps: Geehan, Wordsworth, Ross.

Sunderland II (away to Consett, meet 1pm): Buckley, Edmundson, Hirst, Fish, Smith, Marshall, Reay, Sumner, Silcox, Blackburn, Ditchburn, Wallace, Cowans, Watson, Hands. Reps: Summerside, Turner, Evans

Sunderland III (away to Wallsend, meet 1pm): Marshall, Howe, Stevenson, Turnbull, Deighton, Belfield, Wayman, Watt, Harrison, Grainger, Clinton, Richardson, Garrimore, plus others.

H Washington will look to get back to winning ways in Division Three, with Sedgefield the visitors to Biddick playing fields.

The Newtowners have picked up a win and a bonus point defeat in their three matches so far to sit in mid-table, a point ahead of this week’s opponents.

Washington, though, will aim for better than they managed in last week’s 24-15 defeat at home to Richmondshire.

The hosts started the game brightly, but the Yorkshire outfit opened the scoring with a quick tap penalty catching the retreating Washington pack unaware. A difficult conversion was despatched successfully for a 7-0 lead.

Fly-half Clewes converted a penalty from 30 yards out to get Washington off the mark, but their half-time changes appeared to work to the visitors’ advantage as they scored two tries early in the second half to go 19-3 up.

David Fisher was denied a try when he was held up over the line as Washington rallied, but, from the resulting scrum, he squirrelled over to score. Matty Fisher put the gloss on the try by adding the extra two points.

Richmondshire then all but sealed victory with the best try of the match, their fly-half scoring a fine individual effort from halfway with a jinking run that evaded several attempted tackles.

Washington responded Richmondshire forward somehow managed to kick the ball backwards over his own head and into the in-goal area, where Dean Lane was on hand to pounce and touch down for his first try of the season to close the scoring.

H High-flying Horden host Durham City in Saturday’s game of the day in Division One.