12:00am Saturday 11th January 2014
By Tim Wellock
DARLINGTON Mowden Park are handing a second start to 38-year-old former Premiership winger Mike Wood in today's match against Harrogate at The Northern Echo Arena.
Wood scored two tries in the 51-3 home win against Sheffield Tigers in early November, but the return after injury of Chris McTurk has since kept him out.
After his hat-trick at Bromsgrove last week, McTurk switches to full back to accommodate Wood in an otherwise unchanged side. A change on the bench sees back row man Ollie Hodgson included.
Mowden won 34-17 at Harrogate in September on a day when the hosts received four yellow cards. They lie ninth in the table and another comfortable win can be expected for Mowden, who will also keep a keen eye on the Macclesfield v Sedgley Park encounter.
Defeat for Sedgley would leave the promotion battle as a three-horse race, but Mowden would rather see Macclesfield toppled, allowing them to take over top spot.
This is as close as Mowden get to a derby match in National Two North, although there is probably more needle involved for Harrogate when they play Otley, where they won 25-9 three weeks ago.
Blaydon aim to avenge a heavy September defeat in London when they entertain Rosslyn Park, who are second in National One.
Neither of the two players who featured for Newcastle Falcons on Thursday evening are available, even though prop James Hallam remained on the bench for 80 minutes.
Winger Zach Kibirige received two passes, one of which was forward, before being substituted after 63 minutes.
He has been playing at full back for Blaydon and another winger, Simon Barber, takes over at No 15 today with Nathan Bailey expected to be fit to resume next week.
Tom Bramwell comes in on the wing and in Hallam's absence Andrew Foster is the replacement prop. The only change up front sees the return of hooker Matt Hall.
Tynedale visit Wharfedale, who joined them in narrowly escaping relegation last season but have prospered since and lie fifth.
Second half domination at every scrum saw them win 40-27 at Corbridge in September and their fly-half, Tom Barrett, is the league's leading points scorer on 218.
Tynedale, who are without Chris Harris for the rest of the season after a shoulder operation, have lost last their last 16 away games.
In National Three North Billingham entertain Rossendale, who led the way but have slipped to third and losing four of their last five games.
Westoe are without former Samoan international Lome Fa'atau for the visit of Stockport.
West Hartlepool have Owen Bennett back in the second row for the injured Andy Turner for the North One East match at Malton and Norton.
Davy Tighe continues at fly half.
A poor run saw Malton slip into the relegation frame, but they surprisingly won at Wheatley Hills last week and West will need to maintain their strong defence after not conceding a try for three games.
After their 18-0 defeat at West last week Middlesbrough name an unchanged squad, but flanker Tom Fox and centre Michael Thornburn are expected to start at home to Huddersfield YMCA.
Darlington need to win at home to leaders Horden to keep things tight at the top of Durham and Northumberland One. They have five players back after injury in lock Chris Anderson, flanker Kevin Gilroy, centres Alex Lineton and Andy Pugh, plus full back Dan Carter.
Last week's centres retain their places with Adam Gardner switching to fly half and Sam Hardy to the wing.
Tom Wilkinson, who can play lock or No 8, makes his first appearance of the season on the bench.
Stockton visit third-placed Durham City shorn of seven of last week's squad. Work has taken hooker Ben Cordiner to Liverpool and also rules out prop Dean Gouldsborough, centres Steve Thornton and Craig Slaughter, flanker Todd Highfield and full back Dan Wilson.
Martin Howe has undergone knee surgery, but his fellow player-coach, Paul Lee, returns at fly half with Jeremy Good switching to centre alongside Joel Simpson.
Dan Phinn moves to full back and 18-year-old Joe Hargreaves is handed a start on the wing. The props will be Stu Barrass and Mark Conway, while Jonny Cheetham and former winger Chris Farrell also come into the pack.
© Copyright 2001-2015 Newsquest Media Group