TYNEDALE have been benefiting from the input of Newcastle Falcons defence coach Graham Steadman in the lead-up to tomorrow’s SSE National One trip to Blackheath.
The Yorkshireman was in Corbridge earlier this week as Tyne look to build on their 45-10 home win over Fylde, with chairman of rugby John Shotton stating: “Graham put on a good session for us.
“A lot of it is basically the same philosophy to what Tom Borthwick has anyway, but it is a different voice and it was great to have Graham’s input.”
Ending a six-game losing streak last time out, they travel to London tomorrow with major doubts over Chris Harris (ankle), Ben Frankland (pelvis) and Greg Irvin (leg), although long-term absentee Dave Cherry makes a return for the second team after 10 months out following shoulder surgery.
Also in National One, third-placed Blaydon will be without Nathan Bailey for the visit of bottom-placed Cambridge, with the full-back having sustained a broken toe.
Player-coach Micky Ward returns to the fray after missing last weekend’s win at Cinderford to attend the birth of his child, with the director of rugby admitting: “I am more concerned about this game than the ones we have had against teams higher up the table.
“Our lads have a tendency to start thinking a couple of weeks ahead when we have big games coming up, but we have to treat Cambridge with respect because they have got some very good players.”
Westoe will be without Lome Fa’atau for tomorrow’s National Two North trip to Caldy, with the Samoan international injuring his calf in the warm-up to last week’s win over Luctonians.
Director of rugby Andy Howells said: “Our defence has improved enormously which has made a huge difference, and we are going forward now. I said we needed 25 points by Christmas and we are only four short, so we are making progress.”
National Three North’s promotion race cranks up a gear when third-placed Percy Park travel to second-placed Harrogate, while in Durham and Northumberland Two second also hosts third when Seaton Carew travel to Bishop Auckland.
In Division Three, the top four all meet up as South Tyneside College travel to fellow promotion candidates Whitby, while leaders Hartlepool BBOB host Yarm.
In student rugby, Northumbria University drew 15-15 at home to Leeds Met, with Newcastle beaten 25-14 at home by Loughborough.