Sunderland Rugby Union side face tough test against Darlington

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SUNDERLAND put their run of good form to the test on Saturday as they travel to Durham and Northumberland Division One high fliers Darlington.

Darlington have only lost one game all season and sit in second place.

Sunderland ran Darlo close earlier in the season, but on their own turf Darlington have been rampant and have scored more than 100 points three times, showing just the challenge Sunderland have on their hands.

Despite the opposition Martin Watt’s side will be desperate to record another victory as they aim to climb into the top half of the table, but once again their selection is affected by injury and unavailability.

Despite last weekend’s game being off, Andy Wordsworth and John Drummond are still missing from the pack, so Pete Carter once again attempts to make a return to first team action and will be hoping the weather doesn’t spoil his return once again. 

Andy Black provides a welcome boost returning on the openside, meaning Jake Belfield is moved back into the second row and Craig Elstob drops to the bench.

In the backs, a new centre partnership is named, with the versatile Matt Francis named alongside Tom Townend. 

Dan Abraham returns to the side on the wing with Greg Littlewood and Michael Walton making up the back three.

Both the seconds and thirds are in the pool for fixtures. 

Rob Stormont’s second team are boosted by the return of a number of players, with Bryan Finlay and Andy Hall returning to the pack and Duncan Bain’s strong running in the backs will be a crucial weapon if the seconds are to extend their winning run.

Tony Watt’s men will be looking for stiffer opposition than that provided by Jarrovians last week. 

Youngster Danny Hinder will be hopeful of adding to his already impressive try scoring tally after bagging five last week.

All players for the seconds and thirds are asked to keep an eye on the club’s website for confirmation of fixtures and meet times.

Sunderland away to Darlington. Meet midday: Arrowsmith, Harrison, Ross, Carter, Belfield, Mackie, Black, Watt, Bainsy, Dobson, Abraham, Francis, Townend, Walton, Littlewood. Reps: Buckley, Elstob, Simpson.

Sunderland II pool fixture, meet tbc: Summers Bengochea, Geehan, Hall, Hirst, Cogden, Wilson, Penni, Finlay, Smith, Gaul, Matthews, Meechan, Bain, Tolly, Jermy, Watson, Jordan, Lewandowski.

Sunderland III pool fixture meet tbc: Marshall, Wright Turnbull Belfield, Fish, Harrison, Jackson, Lloyd, Hailey, Grainger, Hands, Simpson, Graham, Hinder, Ditchburn. Reps: Edmundson, Deighton, Walton, Collins, Gallimore, Richardson, Lawson, Groark.