Durham arrive in fine form, joint top of the league with Northern and West Hartlepool a point behind that pair. I look forward to seeing some old friends from my playing days as well as a few lads that I coached whilst with Durham County. Durham are a well rounded side who rely on their off loading ability and support play. We will have to be at our best defensively if we are to push our unbeaten home record to 9-0.
The depth of our squad is really being tested at the moment as injuries and availabilities have struck the group. However, the work done during the off season has reaped benefits as new players have strengthened the wider squad as well as the lads stepping up from the two's.
Not many clubs could cope with having so many regulars first teamers out - Josh Stacey, Euan Duncan, George Bambrick, Darren Kelly, Sean Ramsay, Paddy Sowter, Rich Harrison, Tom Winning, Jez Nash. Even lads we have fallen back on are not about this weekend - Tom Dias, Jamie Wallace, Andy Hall, Greg Humphreyson, Ben Merrett and Chris Law.
In seasons past we couldn't have coped but we have somehow stuck together and trained in big numbers, as is the Novos Way. We are in a great position in the league and can use the run in to target blooding a few youngsters coming through in certain fixtures - Rory Davidson for example who is currently moving through the teams at scrum half having started the season with our fours. In addition, players doing well for the two's can be rotated in and given deserved opportunities.
In the changes there are some real positives as promoted from the two's into the starting pack are Luke Menzfeld and Mark Leckie. Tom Cox returns along with last seasons skipper Alex Littlefair who has been off with a long term injury. Alex will have been grateful for last weeks cancellation as it has enabled him to get some additional training under his belt.
In the backs regular centre Henry Wilson is back and we welcome James Bass into the starting squad. James is a great stalwart at the club with a tremendous attitude towards playing rugby. We are grateful that the Northumbria Police allow James to move things about to ensure he plays rugby each Saturday - James will play for whoever, wherever in whatever position selected.
This weeks finishers are front rower Zach Weatherhead, second rower Kit Sorenson and we are pleased to see the return of Billy Porter to the group.
First xv vs Durham City 1415 - Pete Twentyman (captain) Daniel Shuttleworth, Luke Menzfeld, Chris Ward, Tom Cox, Adam McDonald, Mark Leckie, Alex Littlefair, Christian Selkirk, Lewis Chater, Shaun Stewart (vice captain) Henry Wilson, Ben Wollerton, Tim Hart, James Bass, Zach Weatherhead, Kit Sorenson, Billy Porter.
Second xv @ Tynedale - Jonny Walker, Rhys Gibbons, Ollie Dearden, Cam Carmichael, Ben Silk, Josh Floyd, Gus Nye, Ian Pratt, Rory Davidson, Jonny Winterhalder, Sean Isherwood, Will Horlock, Ben Kelly, Stephen Wood, Jonny Bulfin, Alex Milton, Rich Zabrocki, Charlie Willis, Josh Kaufmann.
Third xv vs Medicals - James Forbes, Ant McQuillan, Paul Sanderson, Jonny Watson, Chris Brown, Jeff Burke, Rob Reid, Alan Pitchford, Jonny Lowes, Jack Pellew, Ross Glasper, Pete Jones, Francis Eze, Tom Burford, Will Evans, Stevie Thompson, Ben Lyons, Paul Fitch, Andy Finn, Ryan Crowson, Iain Kane, Ross Connell.
Up the Vos !
Updated 09:45 - 15 Feb 2019 by Chris Ward