RUGBY PREVIEW: Durham City v Horden

ON TOP OF THE TABLE: Horden (hoops) V Rovers.
ON TOP OF THE TABLE: Horden (hoops) V Rovers.

HEAD coach Glenn Bowman says Horden must clean up their game if they are to win their biggest game of the season so far.

Horden visit Durham City in a critical first against third Durham Northumberland One clash.

Victory would not guarantee the Collierymen promotion – the situation is still extremely tight with nine points separating the top six clubs.

But Horden can create a little dayight between themselves and City if they can win at Hollow Drift.

An away victory could potentially open up a 10 or 11 point gap and if neighbours Hartlepool Rovers can do them a favour by beating Blyth at the Friarage, Horden could lead the division by eight points by 4pm.

But Bowman says Horden must improve from last week’s win over lowly Gateshead.

The side won 30-24 but had problems shaking off their 14-man visitors and the coach says their discipline was not good enough.

“We eventually got the five points we needed to keep our challenge on track,” he said.

“But both the penalty count and the error count need to be addressed.

“We can’t afford to keep handing back possession so easily, it just kills any momentum or pressure you’re trying to build.”

Motivation will not be an issue tomorrow.

Not only are Horden striving to stay clear at the top, they are looking to avenge not only their first defeat of the season but the first of the entire year.

Durham City ended their unbeaten 2013 run with a 23-10 victory at Welfare Park on October 12.

Bowman is not afraid to change a winning side and has made some alterations to both the pack and the backs.

Number eight-turned-hooker Steven Heckles is brought into the number two slot with Richie Thirkell moving across one spot to loose head with Gav Davidson on the tight side.

Heckles is a physical player and give Horden’s forwards a harder edge according to Bowman.

“Hecks carries the ball really well and grafts all day,” the coach told SportMail.

The back five of the scrum is retained en bloc.

There are changes to the backline.

Luke Watson is moved from the centre to scrum-half with Andrew Turner restored to his old haunt of number 10. Powerful centre Andy White is recalled in the midfield with David Bains moving down to the bench.

The back three of Cameron Stables, top try scorer Craig Jones and David Heckles are kept together and the trio will pose a threat to the City defence if Horden can get them into space.

SEATON CAREW will be looking for their first double of the season when they visit Whitby in Division Two tomorrow.