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Can Falcons keep the run going?
TOP of Newcastle Falcons' aims at Rotherham today as they build towards the Championship play-offs will be to maintain their record of not having conceded a try since New Year's Day.
While they enjoyed scoring eight tries in last week's 50-3 win against Cornish Pirates, defence is seen as the key if they are to gain promotion and prosper in the Premiership. Scottish lock Scott MacLeod said: "The fact that we haven't conceded a try since the Doncaster game is very pleasing.
"Defence wins games these days, and if you can turn defence into attack, and be positive and dominant in that area it can be a massive attribute in winning a game."
Boss Dean Richards has named an unchanged side, despite signing winger Noah Cato from Northampton.
"Noah came here with a touch of tonsillitis and he has just started training with us fully," he said. "We will see how things develop over the next ten days. It will be about getting him used to our style of play - there is no doubt about his ability as a finisher."
Blaydon hand a debut to Falcons Academy winger Jamie Sole in the National One match at home to Loughborough Students.
He takes over from Zach Kibirige, who will be playing for Yarm School in the Daily Mail Vase semi-final against Plymouth College at Broadstreet tomorrow.
Blaydon are still lacking first-choice wingers Frazer Wilson and Simon Barber, while Andrew Baggett will be out for a further month after spending five days in hospital with a leg infection.
All the forwards are fit, however, forcing Ben Morris to settle for a place on the bench while there is no place for another highly-rated back row man, Jamie Hamilton.
Ex-Westoe men James Fitzpatrick and Tommy Banks will team up in a very powerful centre pairing.
Westoe need to win their next two games against fellow strugglers, at home to Huddersfield today and at Stockport next week, if they are to have any chance of escaping relegation in National Two North.
They were unable to play last week's match at Preston Grasshoppers because their bus broke down and it cannot be fitted in until May 4.
Darlington Mowden Park will have new signing Henry Robinson at full back for the visit of Caldy to The Northern Echo Arena.
The Leeds University student played for Mowden's seven-a-side team last summer and will bring even more pace to the exciting back division.
Henry Forbes replaces unavailable lock Guy Van Den Dries and Ben Simpson steps in for back injury victim Dan Miller in the front row.
Fly half Grant Connon returns to the starting line-up against a side who looked like beating Mowden when they met on the Wirral until Zylon McGaffin scored a 16-minute hat-trick for a 27-21 win.
In National Three North Billingham can leapfrog visitors Percy Park to move into fourth place. The Tynemouth club have slipped badly in recent weeks, suffering five successive defeats.
West Hartlepool have Stu Waites, Nathan Myers and Andrew Dixon back for the trip to Bradford and Bingley and Andrew Rollins returns on the bench.
Middlesbrough could find themselves deeper in trouble in North One East if they lose at Cleckheaton and Keighley win at home to Pocklington.
After today Boro believe they can win their last five games, but they are unlikely to end a seven-match losing run against a Cleckheaton side who have won their last six.
Skipper Richie Barker is unavailable, while Richard Horton chooses to start on the bench with cousin Ben hooking. Simon O'Farrell returns at fly half.
Darlington will host leaders Beverley on their second team pitch ahead of the England v Scotland U18 international tomorrow.
After falling victim to the weather last week, Stockton make a second attempt to host Bridlington in the second leg of their National Intermediate Cup tie.
Stockton need to win by 14 points to progress to the quarter-final at Eccles in Manchester on March 13. Prop Andy Bailes is available but there are doubts over fly half Jeremy Good, who has a calf strain.
Middlesbrough's Lewis Boyce is out of the England U18 squad for tomorrow's (2pm) match at Darlington because of injury.
The 16-year-old prop was the only player from the region in the squad, but coach John Fletcher is from Tynedale and said: "We're delighted to be playing in the North East. Darlington have fantastic facilities and they are really excited about the game. They have been very helpful."
Yarm's Zach Kibirige, who has already made several England U18 appearances, will be aiming to help his team reach Twickenham when they face Plymouth College at Broadstreet in the semi-final of the Daily Mail Schools Vase tomorrow.
The winger has already claimed ten tries in five games in the competition the school's head of rugby, Stuart Hardy, said: "He's a very good player with a great attitude. He's also a good lad from a good family and he's a top student. He's been an excellent role model for the younger pupils in the school who aspire to follow in his footsteps.
"The backs having been getting most of the limelight, but we have a good, hard-working pack, with a strong back-row.
"This group has been together for a number of years and the thought that the lads might be playing together for the last time at Twickenham is quite something."