Sunderland Rugby Union club get ready to take on struggling Ponteland

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FOR the second week running, Sunderland travel to a struggling Tyneside club – with Ponteland the opposition this week.

Ponteland sit just one place above last week’s opposition Novos, having picked up only one win in their last ten games.

Sunderland make just one change to last week’s side with Jake Belfield returning from injury in place of the unlucky Craig Elstob, who drops to the bench.

The backs line up with the same seven who were picked last week with Guy Kingsley Smith and Mark Henry still unavailable.

Sunderland seconds face Westoe with Andy Wordsworth and Matt Goforth both looking to push their first team credentials after both being unavailable for a number of weeks.

Tony Watt is looking for a marked improvement from his third team after last week’s disappointing loss to Novos.

Sunderland away to Ponteland. meet 12.15: Robson, Harrison, Arrowsmith, Carter, Belfield, Finch, Watt, Vaughan, Dobson, Jordan, Townend, Bellon, Walton, Littlewood. Reps Buckley, Elstob, Francis.

Sunderland II away to Westoe, meet 12.30: Hall, Geehan, Bengochea, Summers, Fish, Wordsworth, Reay, Penni, Mackie, Edmundson, Cogden, Wake, Matthews, Haley, Brace, Heff, Hinder, O’Donovan, Bain, Jermy, Tolley, Hands, Atkinson, Goforth, Gilberts, Wardle.

Sunderland III away to Ponteland. meet 12.30: D.Marshall, Wright, Turnbull, Belfield, Jackson, Harrison, Marshall, Hogg, Richardson, Grainger, Wallace, Graham, Reah, Garrimore, Swanney, Deighton, Peel, Hurst, Edmundson, Fish, Cowans, Clinton.

* Seaham, table toppers in Durham and Northumberland Division Three, are away to Seghill on Saturday, while Horden face a difficult task in their Division One derby trip to Hartlepool Rovers.

* Durham City aim to bounce back from the agony of last week’s 60-3 North One East trouncing at Sheffield when they host Cleckheaton at Hollow Drift on Saturday (2.15pm).

* HOUGHTON will look to kick on from their encouraging start to 2012 when they visit South Tyneside College in Durham and Northumberland Division Three on Saturday.

 The club has been through some changes this season after the departure of coach Nick Willings in October.

 But Marc Watchman-Atkinson is now in charge and looking to build for the future.

The fourth-top Dairy Lane men proved too strong for visitors Seghill last weekend, cruising to a 23-8 win against the Tynesiders, and confidence will be high against South Tyneside, who have managed just three wins in 11 games so far this season.

Chris Simpson converted an early penalty to give Houghton a deserved lead against Seghill, before good recycling work by the pack saw fly-half Johnny Morton chip through for prop Andrew Tyzack, helped by a kind bounce, to kick the ball on and pick up just before the line to score in the corner for an 8-0 advantage.

Seghill responded with a penalty, but Houghton quickly regained the initiative, with second-row forward Allan Widdowfield running in from the 22, following scrum-half Chris Simpson’s fine kick into space, to score his first ever first-team try.

Seghill cut the deficit to 13-8 with a try before the break, despite a tremendous cover tackle from full-back Tom Birtley which knocked the man of the match out and forced his substitution.

The hosts had the best of the second period, increasing their lead with two more unconverted tries. Houghton recycled the ball well to move it wide to winger Graeme Bennett, who used his pace to score in the corner.

The bonus point was sealed when Bennett struck again in the corner, after an excellent run by fired-up flanker Anth Bolton.

Houghton I (v South Tyneside College, meet noon, KO 2.15: Andrew Tyzack; Michael Potts; Matt Marchant; Ian Turnbull; Allan Widdowfield; Anthony Bolton; Glen Crowther; Craig Hicks; Gary Shepherd; Jonathan Morton; Graeme Bennett; Chris Ham; Aidan Towers; Louis Maggiore ; Brett Henderson; Replacements; Paul McBernie; Mark Douglas; Chris Simpson; Iain Scott.

Houghton II (v Mowden Park III, meet noon, KO 2.15): Chris Brown; John Forrester; Mark Godding; Chris Gowland; Richard Harries; Craig Hissett; Kieron Jarvis; Ralph Maine; John Parkinson; Robert Scott; Adam Slessor; Gary Spoors; Gary Stuart; Mark Watchman Atkinson; Stuart Henderson; Matty Miller; Danny Miller; Darren Miller; Allan Fairley; Andrew McBernie.