Mowden's Painter is under pressure

12:00am Saturday 12th October 2013

By Tim Wellock

AFTER keeping Darlington Mowden Park's fly half berth warm for the last few weeks, Gavin Painter finds himself under pressure today from the presence of Grant Connon and Tom Hodgson on the bench.

It is Connon's first appearance of the season, while Hodgson returns after suffering a nasty head injury in the opening day defeat at Macclesfield.

Mowden have won all four games since and will fancy another victory away to Birmingham-Solihull, who are tenth in National Two North with two wins.

But their three defeats have been away to top sides, so Mowden are expecting a much tougher battle than in last week's 14-try spree against Dudley Kingswinford.

Based on last season's form, Connon would be first choice at No 10 and coach John Newton said: "He's been out a long time but we'll try to get him on at some stage.

"We also want to get Liam Riley on in the back row because he had a cracking impact from the bench last week. There's a lot of competition in that area - we'll have Ollie Hodgson, Junior Fagalilo and Will Macauley playing for the seconds against Tynedale."

Also coming back into contention shortly will be ex-Tonga international No 8 Talite Vaioleti, who had the pot removed from his injured foot yesterday.

Winger Chris McTurk has just started running again, but there's another opportunity for Shaun McCartney with Callum McKenzie switching to centre because of Chris Peace's rib problem. Ross White continues at hooker, with Ross Doneghan on the bench.

The team promoted from Two North last season, Hull Ionians, have yet to win a game and Blaydon are hoping to keep it that way when they visit Humberside.

Winger Sean Brown is in Bucharest with Newcastle Falcons, so Simon Barber comes in knowing that Zach Kibirige will soon be pressing for a place. Tom Grimes returns at centre in place of the injured Tom Bramwell.

James Hallam continues to deputise for prop Robbie Kalbraier, who has a broken nose, while there is a slight doubt about lock Gavin Jones, who has been ill.

Injury-hit Tynedale will be hoping the trek from the south coast will sap the strength of promoted Worthing. Among the recent casualties at Corbridge, winger Hamish Smales and flanker Grant Beasley will be out for three months and prop Jonny Williams for at least six weeks.

In National Three North, Billingham can't afford a third successive defeat at home to Sandal, who lost 36-29 at Westoe two weeks ago.

Westoe also need a win at home to Waterloo but are without the speedy Clark brothers, Jamie and Chris.

West Hartlepool entertain Driffield in North One East and are hoping No 8 Sam Miller, who was 18 yesterday, can add to the six tries he has scored this season.

Veteran Davy Tighe is at fly half for the injured Stu Waites, Luke Mallinson returns at full back as Colin Cheslin is working, and Andy Turner, who spent most of last season recovering from injury, is on the bench. Driffield have won only one game so far but have earned five bonus points from five games.

Damage limitation is probably the best Middlesbrough can hope for at Old Crossleyans as their troubles continue to mount.

The speedy Rhys Kilbride switches to full back with David Mackfall and Ben Wood on the wings, while Josh Evans and Matthew Todd are at centre.

Up front, two recent back row men are pressed into service further forward with Richard Lonsdale at prop and Jack Pierce in the second row.

Former Darlington captain David Glendenning makes a comeback at the age of 42 for the trip to Ponteland in Durham and Northumberland One.

His work as a fireman keeps him fit and he comes in at centre with Andy Pugh working and Adam Gardner injured.

Sean Richardson starts at scrum half and his assistant coach Dan Miller returns to partner Joe Hargreaves at prop, with skipper Paul Shepherd working away.

After last week's morale-boosting win at Gosforth, when the pack's average age was 22, Stockton hope to have six players back when they host Guisborough, who are third.

Hooker Dan Muirhead returns following a shoulder injury so David Taylor reverts to flanker. Matt Austen starts at prop to cover the suspended Andy Bailes.

No 8 Martin Dixon is back from his spell working abroad and blind side Tom Nelson holds his place. Nick Atkinson returns in the second row for teenager Liam Healey.

Scrum half Brian Thwaites is fit again after an ankle injury and replaces Owain Jenkins, who has severe friction burns from Gosforth's artificial pitch.

Bishop Auckland are at home to Novos and Horden entertain Durham City.

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