RUGBY PREVIEW: West Hartlepool v Blaydon

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WEST Hartlepool are looking for an action replay of one of last season’s stand-out results when they launch the new rugby programme.

West tomorrow play host to Blaydon in the opening round of the Durham Senior Cup at Brinkburn (kick-off 3pm).

Iain Dixon and Peter Robinson’s underdogs rocked the National League One side in the cup last year with a stunning success at the Crow Trees.

West could actually start as favourites tomorrow on home soil with Blaydon reportedly involve in a friendly at Rotherham on the same afternoon.

It has been suggested the Geordies will send a young development squad to Catcote Road but new West director of rugby Graeme Southern says they will be taking nothing for granted tomorrow.

“We’re led to believe they have a game at Rotherham tomorrow,” Southern told SportMail. “How much we can read into things? We don’t know.

“We’re treating this as a First XV game and an important County Cup tie.

“We’ve prepared well – we had a good start in pre-season when we beat Westoe in a friendly and there is no reason why we can’t continue that tomorrow.”

Southern has weaved some magic already before the first tackle is even made on the new season – he has persuaded Dixon to stay on as head coach.

SportMail reported in the summer that the former county centre was stepping down due to increased work commitments.

But Dixon will stay on though he will receive some expert help from a former West star from their Premier Division days, Jamie Connolly, who has joined Peter Robinson and Phil Wallis on the coaching team.

“It is difficult for Dicko to get to training nights because he works in Leeds now,” Southern explained. “Saturdays aren’t a problem but midweek nights could be.

“So Jamie has agreed to come on board and that is brilliant for the club – his knowledge is second to none.”

West miss Liam Bailey, Owen Bennett and Ian Pinchen because of injury, while back row dynamo Jonny Boatman has retired.

Apart from those key figures, West parade a strong squad tomorrow led by Dan Boatman.

Zac Southern, fresh from a fine display in the friendly win over Westoe, will wear the number 10 jersey.

Two of the club’s young products, prop Jack Anhus and Alex Johnson, start in the pack.

West (probable): S Waites, S Butcher, P Youll, A Cheslin, L Mallinson, Z Southern, R Painter, J Angus, A Rollins, A Coats, J Corbett, A Johnson, C Atkins, D Boatman (Capt), S Miller. Subs: M Hogan, J Baggs, L Chapman, J Rafferty, M Tyers, C Beales, B Knibbs

l SEATON CAREW start their season with a trip to Winlaton Vulcans in the first round of the Durham Junior Cup.

The Tyneside outfit will be on a high following their return to Durham Northumberland Division Two but the Seasiders are able to field a strong team under new captain Kev Tumilty and they have high hopes of progressing to the next round

Seaton:- L Humble, K Johnson, J Taylor. M Lithgo, S McLennan, J Lindsay, D Charlton, S Ashton. B Glaister-Smith, K Brallisford, L Kidson, S Wilson, K Tumilty (capt) S Burmiston, A Ainsley.