The boys are looking forward to travelling to Gateshead this weekend for a 1500 kick off. Always enjoy going back to Gateshead to see old friends and watch players I have previously coached. I was delighted to hear the news this week that Dave "Spud" Tate will be added to their coaching group next season. Spud was one of the better backs at the club during my time there, represented Durham County and gets rugby on and off the field. A great decision by the club and I hope he and Matt Thompson form a successful coaching partnership.
A good performance on Saturday, wins against Barnard Castle and Rovers would hopefully see us maintain 6th spot heading in the final month of league rugby. Medicals are probably favourites looking at the run in of both clubs and Rockcliff are hopeful of a sprint finish. The depth of our squad and the fact that we train in good numbers has been beneficial as unavailability and injuries have taken its toll on the group. It has been great to see regular second teamers step up and show their worth.
This week we make some changes up front in a hope to disrupt set piece ball and deny Gateshead's talented young backs possession. As such, we ditch our recent formula of five back rowers in the pack and look more traditional. Josh Stacey, Daniel Shuttleworth and Luke Menzfeld are selected together for the first time in a while. In the row we see Pete Twentyman move back a slot and he is paired with Adam MacDonald who was excellent in his comeback game last week. This shift in selection sees us select an incredibly talented back row trio as Darren Kelly goes back to his preferred position at blindside. George Bambrick was outstanding last week in a man of the match performance and is making the seven shirt his own. At eight is Sean Ramsay who will be chomping at the bit to get on the ball.
Changes in the back line occur as well as we bring back in Paddy Sowter at nine. Paddy has been playing some great rugby for the two's recently and deservedly gets an opportunity to stake a claim for the nine shirt. It is hoped that Jonny Winterhalder will start at ten providing he gets through his uni game on Wednesday. At twelve will be Jack Hearn, a good distributor and excellent in defence. He is partnered with promising colt Brandon Gilbert. Brandon has already played at first team level and will be looking to show that he is comfortable playing senior rugby. Out wide we go for pacemen in Sam Busby and Ben Forbes flanked by Tim Hart who is given an opportunity to cement a starting spot.
This weeks finishers are Oli Taylor - a colt on debut. Very exciting for the group to bring through one of our promising colts. Oli was outstanding in the colts semi final last week. He is joined by ex Gateshead player Ross Radford who will be highly motivated to get a win against his former club. The squad is rounded off by Ben Kelly, another player who will deservedly get an opportunity to impress.
Up the Vos !