Thornton said: “Gateshead are a club on the up. I watched their win against Oxford and they were excellent.
“Jamie Rooney is pulling the strings and their dual-reg players are starting to fire.
“Stanley Gene has made some shrewd signings, and they’re certainly a club on the rise. This could well be our toughest test of the season so far.”
Knights are aiming to bounce back from a shock defeat against Gloucestershire All Golds, but have a small squad to pick from.
Thornton said: “Hopefully James Haynes will be fit and can cover Ben, but we don’t have a fit centre at the moment. We’re down to the bare bones.”
He added: “We should have had more about us to close the game down at 16-0 up last week but we didn’t. We’re a very young squad and sometimes you get inconsistency.”
Victory for Gateshead could move them into the play-off places if other results go their way.