FULL-BACK David Glendenning is hoping it will be third time lucky for Darlington and fifth time lucky for himself in the Durham Challenge Cup final against Blaydon at Durham City tomorrow.

Apart from being in the Darlington side which lost the 1996 and 2000 finals, Glendenning also played in two finals during his two and a half seasons with Hartlepool Rovers, losing to Stockton both times.

"It would mean a lot to me for Darlington to win this time," said the 29-year-old Durham County player, who began playing in the club's minis at the age of six.

"We are playing good rugby and we believe if we can achieve parity up front we can beat anybody. Every time we have played a team from a higher division we have acquitted ourselves well."

Blaydon are a division higher, but their one defeat this season was at home to Mowden Park, who lost to Darlington in the cup semi-final.

"Any team who can put 40 points on Mowden Park are not to be trifled with," said Blaydon's rugby co-ordinator Andy Howells. "We will have to be at our best to win."

Blaydon had a tough time at home to Macclesfield last week, when fly half David Dalrymple saw them home with a try and two penalties in the last ten minutes.

But he is ineligible tomorrow, so Lee Hogarth takes over and will be partnered at half back by Andy Foreman, who had an excellent game last week and keeps his place ahead of Ben Stevenson.

With former Northern player John Goose at No 8 and open side Tim Russell fit again, skipper Dave Guthrie is at blind side at the expense of Jon Dye.

It should be quite a battle at lock between the RAF's Jason Oakes and Darlington's army man Sandy Fitzpatrick, plus their young sidekicks Paul Bird and Richard Snowball.

"Richard gets through a tremendous amount of work," said Glendenning. "In fact, the whole front five are prepared to work very hard.

"Rovers were on the slide when I left them and I came back to Darlington because they were my home club, not because I expected this kind of success.

"But everything that has happened since has been as good as you could wish for. Now we just expect success.

"Our midfield defence is fantastic. If Blaydon try to come down that channel I'm confident Martin Howe, Bryan Dixon and the two Lees can take care of them."

Paul Lee is expected to be fit to play at fly half after missing last week's game with an ankle injury picked up playing for Cleveland Fire Service.

The score was 22-3 in the 1996 final and as they lost 26-9 to Mowden last season, Darlington will at least hope to get much closer than in the past to winning the trophy for the first time.

Bob Jackson, the club's second successive county president after Bill Robson, would be delighted to present the cup to skipper David Andrew.

Darlington's biggest worry is that any more rain will make the going very heavy at Hollow Drift, which could hamper the free-flowing style they have developed on their excellent surface.