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Harlequins academy tighthead prop Kieran Sassone in Bishop's Stortford team for home National League 1 match against Blackheath




Bishop's Stortford will go in search of a seventh home victory of the season when they entertain Blackheath in National League 1 tomorrow (February 15, 3pm).

And there will be a debut for Harlequins academy product Kieran Sassone as Stortford make five changes to the team that started last weekend's 35-31 defeat at third-placed Rams.

The Gallagher Premiership side's 20-year-old tighthead prop, who has signed on dual registration until the end of the season, comes in along with returning captain Sam Winter, Tom Banks, Tom McCrone and Dan Elsom. Ben Harrison-Price drops down to the bench while James Ayrton, who went off injured against Rams, Al Gliksten, Louis Castiglione and Tom Lewis miss out.

"Kieran's been playing a bit at Barnes this season and hoping to make the next step up," said director of rugby Andy Long. "We can help him develop and he'll help us as well.

"The scrum has been something of a concern over the last few weeks and we needed reinforcements."

There is also a new name on the Stortford bench as Joseph Johnston is involved for the first time. The Northern Irish front row, 23, who has been in the Ulster academy and recently been playing in Peterborough, is on trial until the end of the season.

Captain Sam Winter will return for Bishop's Stortford when they host Blackheath. Picture: Vikki Lince
Captain Sam Winter will return for Bishop's Stortford when they host Blackheath. Picture: Vikki Lince

Andy Long's men sit 12th in the division ahead of the weekend's match following a spirited display against Rams last time out. Stortford fought back from 28-12 down at half time to go three points ahead, but ultimately just missed out and had to settle for two hard-earned bonus points.

Chris Smith, who got two, Will Palombo, Jake Morris and Nick Hankin scored Stortford's tries, while James Ayrton went off injured and Castiglione spent the closing stages in the sin bin.

Visitors Blackheath come to Silver Leys in fifth place in the league and on a run of four straight wins.

They will be aiming to complete a double over the boys in Blue having triumphed 19-14 when the sides met in November.

Long said he expected the Silver Leys pitch to be fine for the contest and was hoping the winds caused by Storm Dennis would not be an issue.


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