DARLINGTON MOWDEN PARK stage their first double-header of the season tomorrow, with the men’s and women’s teams both tackling crucial matches at The Northern Echo Arena.

The men’s side host Bishop’s Stortfort (3pm) looking to force their way into the heart of the promotion picture in National One.

Mowden kicked off 2020 with a disappointing 27-17 defeat at Rams, but will be desperate to get back to winning ways on home soil, having never previously suffered a defeat to Bishop’s Stortfort.

Head coach Garry Law has been forced into a number of changes, with Ollie Walker returning to the starting XI at right wing and Chris McTurk shifting to full-back. Callum Irvine moves to fly-half, with Warren Seals joining Ben Frankland in the centres. Euan McKirdy continues at scrum-half, with top try-scorer Brandon Asher-Wood starting on the left wing.

The bulk of the changes come in the forwards, where Scott Westwood makes his first Mowden start at loose-head, joining David Nelson and Talite Vaioleti in the front row. Joe Craggs shifts into the second row, and is joined by the returning Dan Grange. Captain Ollie Hodgson continues at number 8 and is joined by Joe Duffy and Callum Mackenzie in the back row.

There is a place on the bench for German prop Jonas Humbert, who joined Mowden from Hannover 78 this week. He is joined by Sam Shanks, who is also in line to make his first senior appearance for Mowden after impressing in the seconds.

“The squad is currently being stretched with the current bad luck we are having with injuries, mainly to the front row where Tristan Grant had to retire after ten minutes against Rams after impressing in only his second start of the season,” said Law. “Nevertheless, there is no time to dwell on this and we are immediately back in action against a good Bishop’s Stortford side.

“Games between us are always free flowing with plenty of attacking rugby on show, with the aggregate score over five games being Mowden 154 Bishop’s Stortford 136, which says it all. Having watched their last few games, nothing has changed in their attacking mindset, so much of the same will be the order of the day.

“We have a few positional changes to the team from the Rams match with Joe Duffy and Olly Walker both getting the start after impressing off the bench. The team have had a good week’s training and are looking forward to being back at home and kick starting 2020.”

The men’s game is followed by the women’s match, with Darlington Mowden Park Sharks hosting Wasps (5pm) in the Tyrrells Premier 15s. The game is a significant one for both sides, with just two points currently separating them in the table.

Both sides have won five of their ten fixtures so far this season, with the reverse fixture at the start of the season resulting in a 29-14 win for Wasps despite a brace of tries from Heather Kerr.

A win tomorrow would see Sharks leapfrog Wasps into fifth position and secure their best-ever start to a league campaign.