Sunderland keep the faith

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SUNDERLAND, impressive in their comfortable win against Wallsend last week, stand by the starting XV for this Saturday’s home Durham and Northumberland Division Two fixture against Whitby.

The match has been rearranged to be a home game for Sunderland in order to accommodate the club’s 140th anniversary celebrations at the Stadium of Light on Saturday night.

The only change in the squad sees Craig O’Donovan come onto the bench, with Michael Brace dropping down to the seconds.

With the luxury of a relatively unchanged squad for four games now, Sunderland coach Fraser Kennedy will be looking for his side to build on their recent performances.

Although the Ashbrooke side have delivered good results in recent weeks, keeping up the pressure on Whitley Bay Rockcliff and Ryton at the top of the league, the squad know there is still room to improve.

With both Rockcliff and Ryton due to visit Ashbrooke in the coming three weeks, the Wearsiders know a win over Whitby will be vital to keep their promotion push on course.

The Ashbrooke seconds are away to Gosforth.

Sunderland I (home to Whitby, meet 1.30pm, KO 3pm): Martinez, Harrison, Ross, Carter, Belfield, Drummond, Finlay, Watt, Stirling, Vaughan, Arkley, Levinson, Townend, Abraham, Heffernan. Reps: Geehan, Wordsworth, O’Donovan.

Sunderland II (away to Gosforth): Buckley, Hirst, Summerside, Fish, Smith, Cogden, Arrowsmith, Hanson, Brace, Blackburn, Garvie, Wallace, Walton, Brebner, Silcox. Reps: Marshall, Cowans, Mackie, Evans, Hands.

H Horden will look to get back to winning ways in Division One, following last week’s defeat to Durham City, when they visit Guisborough on Saturday. City, meanwhile, entertain Medicals at Hollow Drift.

H Washington will look to restore confidence in a derby friendly against Chester-le-Street on Saturday.

The Newtowners slumped to a 38-0 half-time deficit in their Division Three clash with Sedgefield, who bagged five converted tries in a ruthless first 40 minutes at Biddick.

Washington, though, produced a much-improved second-half performance which saw them pick up 13 points to the visitors’ 10, going down 48-13 at the end.

Injured player-coach Dom Ryan had some stern words with his side at the break, rightly criticising the poor tackling and the over-committing of players at the breakdown, which left the back line exposed to free-flowing Sedgefield moves.

On the restart, full-back Paul Smith slotted a simple penalty for Washington before the visitors secured a sixth converted try, but the home side dominated the closing stages and were rewarded with two unconverted scores.

Both tries followed strong crash ball runs from the forwards after lengthy spells of pressure deep in Sedgefield’s 22, with Craig Wilson and Dave Allen touching down respectively.