Rugby preview: BIshop Auckland v Hartlepool Rovers

ACTION MEN: Lee Maddison (left) and Adam Smith tackle a  Guisborough player. Picture by TOM COLLINS
ACTION MEN: Lee Maddison (left) and Adam Smith tackle a Guisborough player. Picture by TOM COLLINS

HARTLEPOOL Rovers have been lifted by the return of Lee Maddison for the Durham Northumberland One trip to Bishop Auckland.

The flanker, one of the stand-out performers this season, has been passed fit for the visit to Newton Captomorrow after missing the unlucky 10-8 defeat to Blyth last time out because of a calf strain (kick-off 2.15pm).

Rovers also welcome back former skipper Jon Cushlow who has recovered from a rib injury to start at hooker.

Number eight Matty Wilson is unavailable after a good run in the pack but Rovers are able to restore the influential Stewart Grazier to the starting side.

Young lock Dylan Langley continues at lock after a fine game against Blyth.

Joint coach Carl Robinson said: “Dylan is a good lad who doesn’t mind getting stuck in.

“He reminds me of a young Mark Power.”

In the backs, David Grand resumes at centre, where he links up with Ian Coulson in their 30-something partnership. That means James Evens switches to stand-off, partnering Steve Barnfield at half-back.

The rest of the back division remains unchanged and Robinson and fellow coach Graham Puckrin will look to Barnfield, Evens, Grand and Coulson to get the back three of Jack Gunn, Adam Smith and Liam Austwicke into play.

“We’ve been tortured with injuries this season and we’re still missing a few lads,” said Robinson.

“But we’re starting to get a few players back and more are getting close to being fit.

“Hopefully in the last few months of the season we will reap the rewards and get some good results in the league and do well in the cup.”

Club captain Andrew Dring has been a huge miss, first with a shoulder problem and then an ankle injury, but he trained last night, and could return this month.

Lock Anth Hanley has recovered from a broken hand and is named on the bench tomorrow.

“We think we have a good side out tomorrow,” said Robinson. “Conditions may be heavy and it could be a bit of a slog but we want to go there, look to play the rugby we are capable of and go for the win.”

Rovers: L Austwicke, J Gunn, D Grand, I Coulson, A Smith, J Evens, S Barnfield, A Flounders, J Cushlow, G Wise (capt), D Langley, A Pinchen, T Church, L Maddison, S Grazier. Subs: D Cookland, A Hanley, T Pelser