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Match Day 18 - South Shields & Westoe - 17.02

Match Day 18 - South Shields & Westoe - 17.02

Magnus Leask16 Feb - 15:33
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Three teams at home on Saturday - what an occasion as we welcome Westoe, Tynedale and Wallsend to Sutherland Park.

Novocastrians welcome South Shields & Westoe to Sutherland Park tomorrow as they try to keep their winning momentum going, after a much-needed week's rest.

Three games all on home soil tomorrow for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd XV. As the 2s welcome Tynedale Hadrian's for a 14:00 kick off and the 3s face Wallsend for a 13:30 game.

Novocastrians will be looking to complete the double over Westoe this weekend, a challenge that has proved extremely difficult in recent years. In the last 11 league meetings between the two sides Novo’s have only come up on top on one occasion, that being earlier this season when we came out 14-50 winners away. Tomorrow offers the opportunity for the squad to put on a show for the home fans and do the double over a struggling but dangerous South Shields side.

The 1st XV sees the debut of Alex Watson, a promising young talent out of Dame Allan's School who has finished uni. The ex Newcastle Falcons Academy, Alex is a versatile player who can play confidently in both the second or back row and will be looking to make his mark at six alongside the two Gittins brothers, starting together for the first time in a while. Dylan retains his spot at 8 after some stellar performances recently whilst Sion slides into openside flanker alongside him. Louis Matthews will take the week as extra rest in preparation for our top of the table clash in a couple of weeks' time. George Bambrick will also take some time off for babysitting duties and we congratulate him and Jess on the birth of their daughter!

Ewan Strachan will take up one of the spots on the bench. He has been brilliantly consistent and solid in every aspect of his game after putting in a brilliant performance against Sunderland on his senior debut at the start of the year.

Two familiar faces retain position in the second row. The reliable Johnny Allton and Jeremy Hunt pack down alongside each other, both capable in both attack and defence, Johnny Allton will look to help marshal a slightly younger pack than usual whilst Jeremy Hunt will bring his offloading game to what we expect to be an open affair.

The front row remains relatively unchanged - Johnny McSorley will keep the scrums in order and provide the rest of the team with the much-needed platform to play the exciting rugby they are used to so far this season. On the other side of the scrum Tom Taylor will carry on making line breaks and crunching tackles in defence to rally the rest of the team. Rhys Gibbons rounds out the pack at hooker, a player that has come into his own in recent matches and will be looking to build on that confidence tomorrow.

The backs see a number of changes as a couple of absences from the regular backline allows for opportunities for several talented players to showcase their abilities. The regulars of Lewis Chater, Brandon Gilbert and Michael Searle slot in at 10, 11 and 12 respectively and Sam Busby who has won man of the match two games running will stay at fullback.

Rhys Merlane is absent for the week allowing for Ollie Towe to start at scrumhalf for two games running after a class performance at Acklam. This match up will be a great opportunity to demonstrate his skill with lots of attacking player expected. Harry Tankard returns this week after some time away, he will start at 13 next to the experienced Searle, in a position that is somewhat unfamiliar for the lightning quick speedster who is used to playing in the back three. Eoghan Phillips finishes off the squad after returning from some time away too and will pair up with Brandon Gilbert on the opposite wing, a chance for another great talent to put his foot forward for a starting shirt with the final few games of the season looming around the corner.

Barney Youlden also returns to the team, an awesome talent who makes his way back onto the bench after a few games away, a player adept at playing almost every position in the backline to a brilliant standard will make a big difference coming off the bench especially with the peace of mind knowing the backs are covered in the case of any unfortunate injuries.

It is bound to be a high scoring affair, lots of young talent in the squad with a lot to prove and an opponent currently struggling so far this season with nothing to lose!

1st XV meet time 12:30 to kick off at 14:00 – McSorley, Gibbons, Taylor, Hunt, Allton, Watson (1's debut) Gittins, Gittins, Towe, Chater, Gilbert, Searle, Tankard, Phillips, Busby, Scrace, Strachan, Youlden

2nd XV meet time 12:45 to kick off at 14:00 – Devenish (2's debut) Forster, Lawson, Mills, Platt, Cokeley, Archibald, Hood, Martin, Jones, Lambert, Stewart, Bird, Cook, Lehmann, Nossa-Yabantu, Fraser, Green, Long (club debut) Abibu

3rd XV meet time 12:15 to kick off at 13:30 – Forbes, McQuillan, Wood, Sweeney, Dunbavin, Zabrocki, Cook, Bass, Selkirk, Thompson, Cleminson, Leonard, Richardson, Morton, Wilkinson, Wallis, McKenna, Storey, Watson, Hamill, Thompson, Bowman, Logue, Hawkins, Longstaff, Barnes, Thompson

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