Rugby preview: Horden out to get back on track at Stockton

HORDEN are desperate to get their Durham Northumberland One promotion push back on track – but head coach Glenn Bowman is taking nothing for granted at mid-table Stockton (kick-off 3pm).

The Colliery side racked up over a half century of points when they won at Norton back in April.

But Horden have encountered something of a blip – back-to-back defeats by Durham City and Guisborough following the end of their 18-game unbeaten record in 2013.

“Stockton seem to be a bit of a Jekyll & Hyde side this season,” Bowman told SportMail.“They had a good win over Guisborough, then a defeat last week at Consett.

“But I think they’ll be strong at home so we’ve got to be on our game.

“We’ve lost a bit of the structure and belief that we had at the start of the season – we need to get that back and after two defeats in a row it needs to happen quickly if we want to keep challenging at the top of the table.

“This squad has the ability, no doubt about it, we just need to learn to be a little more patient and composed when we get in the right areas.

“We must also not beat ourselves up too much when things don’t go right.”

Horden name the same front five as last week, assuming skipper Michael Thubron recovers from a knock he took last week.

Newton Turton returns in the back row and joins up with Paul James and young Kieran Forbes.

“Neil Hartley starts at scrum-half after a good display after coming off the bench last week.

Winger Cameron Stables is unavailable so David Heckles returns to full-back with Craig Jones moving to outside.

David Bains comes into 10 with Luke Watson and Davey Smith occupying the centre spots.

“It’ll be good to have Newt back,” said Bowman. “He’ll certainly make a difference at the breakdown and if we get some quick ball to play the patterns we want, I’m confident we can put in a big performance.”

l MICHAEL Smalley is out of Hartlepool’s Division Two trip to Redcar with a broken hand sustained during training this week. He is replaced by James Shaw, who performed well on his debut at North Shields.

The second change sees Alex Thompson replace the injured Dean Ryan on the left wing.