8:00am Saturday 15th February 2014
By Tim Wellock
IF Darlington Mowden Park's game at Sheffield Tigers goes ahead today they will expect a much tougher battle than in their 51-3 home win in November.
The Tigers' subsequent improvement was underlined when they lost by only one point at Macclesfield then won at home to Sedgley Park and Birmingham.
The Sheffield club's last two games have been called off and a third postponement would force Mowden to play on Easter Saturday, April 19, the week before their final match at home to Macclesfield.
There are also reserve days next week and on March 15, but Tigers have already filled those.
A postponement would mean a two-week break for Mowden, which would at least allow them to get some key players fit for the visit of fourth-placed Sedgley Park at the start of a tough March programme.
They follow up with a trip to Chester and have to visit Stourbridge at the end of the month.
Flanker Jack Allcock, who suffered his second injury of the season last week, will be fit for the Sedgley game, as will full back Henry Robinson.
"Henry has been on a mission to get back as quickly as possible," said coach Danny Brown. "The amount of work he has put in has been tremendous and he's well ahead of schedule."
Robinson was the league's leading try scorer with 14 until he was one of a trio of players injured in the home match against Stourbridge. The other two, Grant Connon and Liam Riley, are due to have operations and will not play again this season.
After their poor start, Tigers are third from the bottom and Mowden expect them to be fighting hard for survival in National Two North, having battled their way up from Yorkshire Three.
The flooding in the Thames Valley has put paid to Blaydon's visit to Henley today, the National One match being rearranged for March 15.
The other reserve day next week is taken up by Blaydon's rearranged visit to Cinderford, but an improvement in the weather will be needed for it to go ahead. The season is in danger of spilling over into May for the Forest of Dean club.
Tynedale will decide early this morning whether their home match against leaders Doncaster can go ahead.
They also still have to visit second-placed Rosslyn Park, but they play three of their relegation rivals in the final month.
In National Three North Westoe have switched their home game against Beverley to the Harton Technical College pitch as Wood Terrace is unfit.
They have persuaded ex-skipper Gareth Nesbitt to come out of retirement as they seek to end a run of four defeats and stay out of relegation trouble.
Billingham could be dragged back to the brink of the danger zone if they lose at Waterloo, who remain third bottom but underlined their improvement by winning at Beverley last week.
West Hartlepool are due to visit Alnwick, who boosted their survival hopes in North One East with a 31-7 win at Wheatley Hills last week.
West skipper Danny Boatman will be out for several weeks after damaging a shoulder in last week's game against leaders Cleckheaton. Andy Turner deputises and Colin Cheslin returns at full back with Luke Mallinson moving to the wing.
Middlesbrough will inspect this morning to see if the home match against Morpeth can go ahead. It's one they need to win as the visitors are two points ahead of them with a game in hand.
Boro have recalled Richard Metcalfe at centre with Michael Thornburn moving to the wing. Matthew Todd is at fly half and Jack Bircham at full back.
Durham and Northumberland One leaders Horden are at home to Stockton, who lost the home meeting 49-6 at the end of October.
Flanker Anthony Parkinson has torn a hamstring, but Martin Dixon has recovered from his fractured hand which has kept him out for four months and Sam Toulson has returned after several seasons in Canada to slot in at No 8.
Props Simon Brown and Ben D'Cunha are available again after injury and while lock Matt Doherty is unavailable his younger brother Charlie forces his way into the squad for the first time.
In the threequarters Ritchie Brown has returned after working away all season and fills the centre slot alongside Craig Slaughter as Steve Thornton is working.
Darlington's home match against Bishop Auckland is in serious doubt.
n Durham School reached the semi-finals of National Schools Cup by defying rain and mud to win 11-0 at home to Shropshire-based Adams' School. They are now one game away from Twickenham and are joined in the draw by RGS High Wycombe, Dulwich College and Warwick School.
Full-back Adam Redman kicked two first half penalties and lock Harry Bryant ran 20 yards down the blind side to score a try.
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