Hartlepool Rovers look to bounce back against Bishop Auckland

ON THE ATTACK: Ben Cushlow playing for Hartlepool Rovers V Ponteland.
ON THE ATTACK: Ben Cushlow playing for Hartlepool Rovers V Ponteland.

COACHES Graham Puckrin and Carl Robinson are desperate to see Hartlepool Rovers bounce back to winning ways against Bishop Auckland.

The Friarage bosses suffered their most disappointing Saturday of the season last weekend when their side lost 20-16 at Blyth.

On the face of it, a four-point loss at the home of the undefeated Durham Northumberland One leaders does not look the end of the world.

But Rovers had victory within their grasp only to let it slip.

“We need to get back on track,” Robinson told SportMail. “We should have won last week.

“Blyth are not great by any means.

“I was devastated by that defeat. We made a great start but once they scored and got in front our heads dropped.

“But we still should have won.

“We need a good result.”

Bishop Auckland come to West View Road for the first time in league rugby having won Division Two last term with a century of points.

They sit just below Rovers in the table with an identical record of three wins from six games – all their victories coming at home, including a noteworthy 51-15 rout of Stockton so they should not be discounted.

Rovers are again without skipper Andrew Dring as the number eight continues to rest a shoulder problem.

Vice-captain Michael Barnfield is also ruled out with a groin strain which kept him out of the defeat at Blyth, so long-serving prop Glen Wise will again lead the side.

Rovers make several changes in the backs and forwards.

Up front, Jon Cushlow resumes at hooker so Andrew Flounders switches to prop with Michael Tucker moving to the bench.

Lock Andrew Pinchen is at a wedding so Mark Power comes into the second row, while at flanker Tyrone Church is ruled out with Anth Hanley deputising.

In the backs, Taz Pelser resumes at scrum-half, swapping places with Tom King who goes onto the bench.

David Grand, who started in the centre at Blyth, returns to the wing with Ben Cushlow on the other flank.

Liam Austwicke is moved from full-back to outside centre, with Steven Barnfield taking the number 15 jersey.

There will be a First XV debut for John Padgett, who is the brother-in-law of centre Grand.

The flanker is named on the bench alongside Tucker and King.

“John used to play for Sunderland a few years ago,” said Robinson.

“He stopped playing but then came down here with Grandy, played a few times and enjoyed it.

“John’s had some good reports from the second tea games and he’s a big, strong ball carrier.

“He’ll do a good job for us.”

Rovers: S Barnfield, B Cushlow, L Austwice, I Mulvihill, D Grand, C Sainty, T Pelser, G Wise (capt), J Cushlow, A Flounders, M Power, B Little, A Hanley, L Maddison, S Grazier. Subs: T King, M Tucker, J Padgett