Name game for Blaydon

First published in Sport The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by

BLAYDON will be using surnames when calling backs moves in today's National One opener at home to Loughborough as all four three-quarters and a replacement back are called Tom.

Wingers Jeffery and Grimes are joined by centres Banks and Bramwell, while Penny is on the bench for the team who finished third last season.

Bramwell has switched from Tynedale, who host Blaydon next week after kicking off at Henley today.

Grimes, a Northumbria University student, is another newcomer and Penny is a centre or wing who is dual-registered with Newcastle Falcons, as are flankers Ben Morris and wingers Sean Brown and Zach Kibirige, who are all unavailable today.

Brown scored twice against Blaydon for the Falcons' Development XV last weekend, when the Newcastle hierarchy were impressed by flanker Rob Bell, who scored 18 tries for Blaydon last season and again finished a couple of catch-and-drives as they lost 19-12.

But he will be available only for the first month of the season because of RAF duties, after which it is expected that Morris or Newcastle University's Harry Bate will take over at open side.

Bate is at blind side today and another student newcomer in the pack is hooker Fran Entressengle, from Huddersfield. He deputises for Matt Hall, who has an ankle problem and has handed over the captaincy to lock Keith Laughlin.

Director of Rugby Micky Ward continues at prop and Jason Smithson at No 8, but another senior player, fly-half Andrew Baggett, has been laid low by a bug, so Jamie Guy steps in.

Winger Fraser Wilson and prop Andrew Foster are on their way back following long-term injuries.

Centre Jack Harrison again captains Tynedale, who welcome back Sep Visser after spending a season with his brother, Scotland winger Tim, in Edinburgh.

Former Newcastle Falcons lock Andy Buist, whose Premiership career was ended by injury, has also signed, along with Westoe winger Dominic Rundle. Fly-half Gavin Beasley is back after dabbling with Rugby League.

Newcastle Falcons trio Chris Harris, Scott Wilson and George McGuigan are again dual registered with Tynedale.

Billingham have suffered a big blow ahead of their National Three North campaign with player-coach Chris Hyndman suffering a serious knee injury, while his brother, Anth, is taking time out.

Their absence sees skipper Joe Evans switch to centre for today's visit to Huddersfield with young Josh Bradman at fly half and two colts, Tom Small and Luke Wilson, also appearing in the backs. Danny Dixon has returned from Mowden Park to bolster the pack.

Following relegation back to North One East, West Hartlepool have had an excellent pre-season, beating Westoe, Blaydon and Horden. But it has come at a cost with injuries to forwards Ian Pinchen and Owen Bennett, plus winger Tom Armstrong, who miss the trip to Northern.

Skipper Danny Boatman moves up to the second row with Chris Atkins earning a place on the back row.

Liam Bailey's conversion from hooker to centre continues.

Middlesbrough are slightly stretched in the backs for the visit of Alnwick, so regular scrum-half Peter Wright is at No 10 and veteran Simon Moore is in the centre alongside new skipper Rob Bellerby.

Hooker Isa Warsama, who has returned to the club, is joined in the front row by Phil Harland and Matty Helm as the Horton trio, Richie, Chris and Ben, have all retired.

Former colt Adam Nolson starts at full-back, Connor Foley is at scrum-half and David Mackfall is on the wing after returning from Darlington.

Following their return to Durham and Northumberland One, Darlington begin their 150th anniversary season at home to Gateshead.

Prop Dan Miller, back from Mowden, is helping Sean Richardson with the coaching and the latter hopes to play once he has recovered from a torn calf.

Another prop, Paul Shepherd, has taken over the captaincy so Joe Hargreaves and Joe Oselton are on the bench. Newcomers in the pack are Catterick-based lock Kevin Gilroy and back-row men Jamie Chalmers and Dom McAlorum, who have been playing for the club's Rugby League team over the summer.

Andrew Pugh has returned from Medicals and is joined at centre by Adam Gardner, who has switched from Mowden. Arun Keans is at scrum-half with Mark Baldwin at full-back.

Darlington won an appeal against being placed in Yorkshire One, which resulted in Acklam having to switch, and they face a tough start at York.

Resurgent Bishop Auckland will be rubbing shoulders with Darlington following promotion and they begin at home to Ponteland.

Stockton visit Blyth with coach Paul Lee at fly-half after shoulder surgery, while another veteran, Wayne Brown, is at lock as skipper Mark Skirving is out long term with a back injury. Younger members include Dan Seaman in the back row and Steven Tampin at centre.

Guisborough, who lost to Huddersfield YMCA in the promotion play-offs in April, visit promoted Novos without fly-half Lloyd Thomas, who has signed for Mowden Park.

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