AFTER three victories out of 17 in North One, Middlesbrough are confident they can win three of the remaining five games to avoid relegation.

They are determined not to slip straight back into North Two East at a time when the long-running redevelopment plans at Acklam Park are finally showing signs of progress.

They have sold a strip of land adjacent to Green Lane, currently occupied by terraced seating overlooking the cricket ground, and a planning application has gone in to build flats and starter homes.

The cricket square will have to be moved about ten metres towards the rugby pitch, with the work being overseen by former Durham and Acklam Park groundsman Tom Flintoff.

The money received by the rugby and cricket clubs will allow them to build a new clubhouse plus indoor nets.

It is hoped the redevelopment will provide a big boost to a club which has helped to produce the likes of Alan Old, Rob Andrew and Rory Underwood, plus cricket internationals Chris Old and Bill Athey.

Boro threatened to cause an upset at West Park St Helens on Saturday when they led 10-7 after 35 minutes, only to trail 29-10 at half-time.

They eventually lost 36-20 to remain next to the bottom, but four of their last five games are at home. Two are against relegation rivals Sheffield and Liverpool St Helens, while they also feel they can beat mid-table Morley.

Scrum half Peter Wright returned after a three-month absence through injury, but his half back partner Dave Richardson was ruled out by hamstring trouble and full back Simon Moore was missing because of the facial injury he suffered the previous week.

Ali Little came in for his first appearance since September at full back, while Andy Micklewright played at fly half and Richard Metcalfe partnered Neil Baggett at centre.

Baggett kicked an early penalty but the hosts came straight back with a converted try before Boro began to get on top.

The forwards played well and created the platform for Wright to dart over, Baggett converting for the deserved 10-7 lead.

But Boro went to sleep either side of half-time, with sloppy tackling allowing West Park to score five tries, with two conversions.

The Boro pack then got on top again in the final quarter and an excellent move produced a try for Baggett, before further pressure near the end allowed replacement scrum half Liam Goodall to nip over.

Boro were helped by Liverpool losing at home to Birkenhead Park, so they still trail the Merseysiders and Vale of Lune by only two points. They have no game next week then entertain bottom club Sheffield.

In National Three North Blaydon suffered a third successive defeat without skipper Dave Guthrie, who decided not to risk aggravating his buttock muscle injury.

He might also sit out next Saturday's home game against leaders Halifax as Blaydon then have two games against relegation rivals Dudley and Darlington which they are desperate to win.

The 16-3 defeat at second-placed Macclesfield left Blaydon three points above the third relegation spot, which is now occupied by Darlington, who have a game in hand following the postponement at Halifax.

Cleckheaton moved up four places by winning 24-23 at home to Rugby, who are on the same points as Blaydon but have played a game more.

After the postponement of their home match against Fylde, Darlington Mowden Park are fourth from the bottom, two points ahead of Darlington, and need a win at bottom club Bedford Athletic next week.

Despite picking up two bonus points in their narrow defeat at Cleckheaton, it is Rugby who now look most vulnerable.

If the North-East trio survive and three Midlands clubs go down the division will be dominated even more by North teams.

Blaydon had a good surface to play on at Macclesfield and trailed only 3-0 to a 36th minute penalty after facing a strong wind in the first half.

Ten minutes into the second half flanker Dave Marwick was penalised for handling on the deck and when he transgressed again three minutes later he was sin-binned.

The home full back immediately came into the line to score, then Blaydon fell off-side under the posts and they were 11-0 down before Marwick returned.

Fly half Dan Clappison kicked a long-range penalty following a good attack by Blaydon but they did not use the ball well enough to threaten until after Macclesfield's hooker scored their second try.

Blaydon spent the last ten minutes in the home 22 but couldn't get over the line.

Tynedale were outgunned by the powerful New Brighton pack at Corbridge and needed two injury time tries from Ben Duncan and Peter Southern to earn a bonus point from a 26-19 defeat.

In the only match played in North Two East, Hartlepool Rovers did leaders Westoe a huge favour by winning 16-15 at home to second-placed Huddersfield.

Rovers went behind to unconverted tries three times in the first half and trailed 15-11 at the interval, with Huddersfield's third try coming in added time.

But the only score of the second half clinched it with Andrew Lilley intercepting to race home from 40 metres.

Simon Rutherford scored Rovers' first half try after good mauling by the forwards and Gareth Foreman added two penalties.

The two games played in Durham and Northumberland One both involved top teams. Leaders Percy Park won 65-0 at home to West Hartlepool TDSOB, while in the battle between second and third York won 18-3 at home to Northern.

It was 3-3 early on, but York dominated the scrums and scored first half tries through Brad Macdonald and Rob Kama. Tom Copeland's second penalty provided the only points of the second half