RUGBY PREVIEW: Novocastrians v Hartlepool Rovers

NEWCASTLE TRIP: Hartlepool Rovers. Picture by JOE SPENCE

NEWCASTLE TRIP: Hartlepool Rovers. Picture by JOE SPENCE

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COACH Carl Robinson wants to see Hartlepool Rovers “cut out the silly mistakes” as they begin a month which could determine how their entire season shapes up.

Rovers visit Novocastrians in a game which brings together eighth against ninth at Sutherland Park (kick-off 3pm).

After winning their opening two fixtures, Rovers have lost their last two and slipped to ninth in the Durham Northumberland One standings.

But they gave promotion favourites Morpeth a scare last weekend before the leaders emerged with a 31-29 win – just.

Coaches Graham Puckrin and Carl Robinson and director of rugby Michael Ainslie want to see that Rovers side on the field tomorrow and beyond.

“We are giving ourselves too much to do,” Robinson told SportMail.

“If we can cut out the silly mistakes then we’ll be playing on a level playing field and we’ll give ourselves a chance.

“Last week, we got stronger and stronger as the match wore on and I think if we’d had just five more minutes we’d have won.

“But the slow starts and daft mistakes are killing us.

“I don’t tend to watch the other team but last Saturday because they came here with three wins out of three, I made sure I saw Morpeth’s warm up.

“But they looked the part and I thought ‘we could be in for a hard afternoon’.

“We gave them too many points – it’s not like they carved us open or anything, we gifted them sloppy tries.

“In the second half we frightened them – they were definitely rattled.

“But our slow starts are killing us, we must start quickly and then get stronger and stronger.”

Novos are not in Morpeth’s class but they are certainly no mugs after winning two out of four to date.

The Newcastle side are already halfway to their entire league win tally from last season when they only stayed up due to their high number of bonus points.

They have already beaten Blyth and Consett at home while scoring well in away defeats at Darlington and Guisborough.

Robinson added: “Novos have had a canny start.

“I don’t know whether it’s a change in personnel or whether they’ve just said ‘let’s see what we can do’.

“It will be tough though. We’re going to have to show the right attitude we did in the second half last week.

“If we do that then we’ve got a chance of winning.”

Rovers have yet to finalise their starting XV as they wait on a couple of knocks.

One change which looks certain is at hooker where the experienced Jon Cushlow is out with a bad back.

Kevin McGuire looks set to take the number two jersey.

Tyrone Church comes into contention following impressing as a sub after coming into the squad as a late call-up for John Padgett who was rulld out with Achilles trouble.

Robinson said: “Tyrone had been out a long time with a dislocated elbow.

“But he came on last week and did well.”

Rovers are hopeful wingers David Grand and Adam Smith come through fitness tests.”

Rovers (from): C Sainty, L Austwicke, D Grand, J Gunn, I Coulson (capt), A Smith, M Barnfield, S Barnfield, A Flounders, K McGuire, G Wise, M Tucker, D Baxter, D Langley, M Wilson, T Church, L Maddison, M Foster.