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Boro eager to end losing run.

Middlesbrough are back on home soil for their latest attempt to break away from the North Division One relegation zone.

But they face more tough opposition in the form of Hull, a side that has lost only once in eight games.

However, Boro's performance at Chester last Saturday was much improved and if they build on that, they have every chance of ending their losing run.

Gareth Lodge returns to the second row in place of the unavailable Phil Tilson.

Neil Parkin is drafted in at open side for his first full game, while the Horton duo, Richard and Chris are in the front row.

Full back Simon Moore returns in place of exciting youngster Neil Baggett.

He is on the bench as Boro carefully nurse along a player who could have a bright future.

Redcar are hoping to move back into the top half of North 2 East, by winning at Hartlepool Rovers who are two points behind the Seasiders.

There's one change to the Redcar pack, Mark Poulsen returning at No8 for Ritchie Barker, who is not available.

After a good game against Westoe last week, Kieran McMahon retains the No 10 jersey.

Gareth Forman is available from work duties this week and plays outside player coach Jamie Connelly, at outside centre.

Greg Unthank retains the No 15 jersey ahead of Brad Stovell, who moves onto the bench.

In the second team, Chris Palmer continues to impress at hooker, with some very strong performances over recent weeks.

In the same division, Stockton visit table topping Westoe in what will be a test of their defences.

Westoe have strengthened their team considerably this season with the acquisition of former England lock Gareth Archer and Newcastle Falcons back row man Richard Arnold.

Flanker Phil Austen is a welcome return to the Stockton pack in which Russ Alderson retains his place at prop after promising displays.

Stockton will be without winger Ritchie Brown, but Stuart Brown has now recovered from his thigh injury and takes his place.

Centre Mattie Oates has injured a knee in training so Simon Crozier moves in from the wing and ex colt Phil Bieda is promoted from

the Saracens.

In Durham and North One, Billingham host top of the table Percy Park, who are unbeaten.

But Billingham skipper Chris Ker is in confident mood, saying: "They have to lose at some point, and we have beaten them at home in the last two years.

"We won well a fortnight ago, and have had some good training sessions since."

The skipper is back after injury, while Andy Evans returns to play alongside him.

John Daley returns in the back row, so Craig Daley drops to the bench.

Acklam travel to Hartlepool TDSOB needing to win to stay out of the relegation zone.

Tim Savage makes his debut at lock partnering Andrew Cruickshank.

Paul Nevison and Daniel Ashton make up the half back pairing with Mark Paine patrolling at full back.

Coach Rick Taylor said: "Competition for places is starting to hot up. This always lifts players to perform to their best."

In Division Two, fresh from a cup victory in Hull, Guisborough host Seaton Carew, the team immediately above them in the table.

Yarm skipper Simon Bate returns for the home game with Whitby.

He has missed the last couple of games with an ankle injury. Dan Earl is back at centre, though Ian Betts is unavailable.

Bate said: "We are on the same number of points as Whitby, so this is game we want to win."
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Title Annotation:Sport Rugby
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Dec 3, 2004
Words:590
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