DARLINGTON Mowden Park have made four changes for today's National One home game against Esher Rugby (3pm).

Three changes come in the forwards, where Jamie Blamire and Simon Uzokwe both return to make their first starts of 2019.

Jamie Blamire comes in to start at hooker, with Alfie Barron and Ignas Darkintis continuing at loosehead and tighthead prop respectively.

After a stint in the front row, Talite Vaioleti returns to start at lock alongside Joe Craggs, while Uzokwe comes in to start at 6 after scoring Mowden’s bonus point try last week against Sale FC.

Matt Heaton captains the side from the openside flank, while Ollie Hodgson continues his run of starts at 8.

The only change in the backs sees Ollie Walker return to start on the wing, joining Chris McTurk and Shaun McCartney in the back three. Matt Dudman and Warren Seals continue at half back, with Garry Law and Ben Frankland keeping their places in the centres. Amongst the replacements there is forward cover from Poole, Brady, Fisher and Stokes, while Callum Mackenzie provides further options in the backs.

Mowden director of rugby Danny Brown said: “We played very well in patches last week but ultimately not good enough and it’s important for us to maintain our performance for the full game.

"Against Sale we started really brightly and finished the game strongly, but the middle part of the game was frustrating. This weekend we’re looking to play with the same confidence we have been since Christmas and execute some of the things we’ve been working on in training.”

On his selection, Brown added: “We’re starting to get more and more players back from injury so it’s good for us to be able to rotate players and give a few lads a bit of a breather.

"It’s great for us to have Jamie Blamire back to start at hooker. Pooley has been great this season and has played more rugby this year than he probably has in the last 3 so he needs a bit of a rest having played every minute since Christmas.

"Likewise George Stokes has put his body through a huge amount due to the collisions he makes time after time and we need to give him a rest and that allows Simon to prove a point not just to us but to Newcastle also and we’re looking forward to a big performance from him on Saturday. Ollie Walker has recovered from a knock so he comes in to start on the wing after performing really well since Christmas.”

Today's game is important for both sides. A win for Mowden could see them climb as high as fifth, while Esher will be looking for vital points in their battle against relegation.

Asked what he was expecting from today's visitors, Brown added: “Esher are obviously scrapping for Nat 1 survival towards the bottom of the table and we know how dangerous they can be.

"They have taken a few big scalps this year, including beating Rosslyn Park away which not many sides have managed. It just highlights how competitive the league is this year and we’re expecting a tough battle this weekend. It’s important for us to match them physically and if we do that, we’ll get the chance to play the style of rugby we want to play.”

Mowden: McTurk, Walker, Frankland, Law, McCartney, Seals, Dudman, Barron, Blamire, Darkintis, Craggs, Vaioleti, Uzokwe, Heaton, Hodgson. Replacements: Pools, Brady, Fisher, Stokes, Mackenzie

* Tickets are available on the day priced at £10 for adults, £8 for concessions and admission is free for U16s