Thunder step up training

Mitchell Stevens, Jason Payne and Conor Condron could all be available for Gateshead Thunder director of rugby Chris Hood.

Gateshead have stepped up their training regime in a bid to end a run that has seen them go nine Co-operative Championship One matches in 2011 without a win.

Hood said: “We’ve used our week off to focus on our priorities – one-on-one collisions, edge defence and our push and support when we’ve got the ball.

“We’re now doing three sessions a week instead of two and that will continue for the rest of the season.

“We’ve set ourselves some targets for the rest of the season. Those targets are the end destination – it’s up to myself and Kevin Neighbour to sort out the journey.”

Swinton Lions coach Steve McCormack is still without Richie Hawkyard (hamstring) as he bids to continue his side’s impressive start to the season.

The Lions have won eight of their nine league fixtures and currently lead the table by four points.

Their latest victory – an 18-16 triumph over Oldham – left McCormack particularly proud. He said: “There was plenty of character in our side.”

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