IT’S all change for Tynedale ahead of the new season, with a new coach, a host of exciting new players, and the departure of some much loved favourites.

New coach Ben Woods gave some of the new boys a run out in the final pre-season friendly at Corbridge on Friday night, in a full blooded “friendly” against old rivals Blaydon.

Blaydon had something to prove after suffering their second successive relegation last season, and secured the bragging rights with a narrow win in a blood and thunder derby.

Occasionally, Blaydon looked like the side from a higher division, as Tynedale struggled to shake off the scales of the long hot summer.

The lineout creaked, tackles were missed and passes went awry in a typical stop-start warm up game, but the Tynedale side were given a good work out.

Kicking was also a problem, for although eight tries were scored, only one was converted.

One close season signing who impressed, particularly in the second half, was ex-Blaydon and Barnard Castle lock Chris Wearmouth, and there were also promising debuts from Northumbria University wing Liam Checksfield and fellow flier Tom McCallum.

It was also good to see powerful prop Ben Haigh thundering about the field, after missing the whole of last season through injury.

He was one of Tynedale’s try scorers, with the others coming from centres James Clark and Tom Bramwell, and new prop Liam Carmichael, signed from Morpeth.

One worrying aspect of the game was the sight of Tynedale fly half Jake Rodgers finishing the night in the dug out with his arm in a sling, with a possible broken arm.

No-one reads too much into pre-season games. Tynedale also lost all their warm up matches last season, but still finished an excellent fourth in the National League Division Two North.

Tynedale’s crop of new players includes a number of dual registration signings with Newcastle Falcons, including lock Will Montgomery, flankers Tom Marshall and Rob Farrar, scrum half Cam Kalametri and winger Morgan Passman.

Also new to the blue and white hoops is Welsh premiership prop Jed Kirkin, from Colwyn Bay based RGC, and also new to the front row are hooker Gareth Black from Berwick, and Matt Woodward from Newcastle University.

Other newcomers are fly half Robbie Forbes from Northumbria University, centre Bole Vake Bigt from Rugby Lions, and back rower Ben Beaumont from Newcastle University.

But the newcomers will have some big boots to fill, following the retirement of number eight Scott Powell.

An outstanding player for several seasons, he was a master of gathering the ball behind a retreating scrum.

Also hanging up his boots is legendary prop Peter Southern, now coaching down at Kendal in Cumbria.

Another big miss will be free scoring wing Oli Walker, trying his luck with National One side Darlington Mowden Park. while half back and goal kicker supreme Ash Smith is believed to have gone to Percy Park.

Flanker Nick Cairns has left the district, and will be playing for Stourbridge.

Tynedale kick off the new Division Two North season on Saturday with a tough encounter in Leicestershire at fierce rivals Hinckley, and open their home programme on September 8 by entertaining newly promoted Hull Ionians.

Tynedale's new director of rugby Ben Woods said: "Hinckley will undoubtedly prove a tough test for us.

"They had a great second season National 2 North last season and firmly established themselves in the upper echelons of the league.

"I would expect them to be vying for a similar if not higher league position this season as they seem to have a reasonably settled squad with plenty of talent and an additional year of National 2 experience.

"I know George Chuter, their director of rugby, from our time at Leicester together, and he'll definitely have them well organised with a strong set piece.

"With regards to the lads leaving the club clearly some top players with plenty of experience and leadership are playing elsewhere this season but it's a great opportunity for the players remaining from last season and the new arrivals to put their own stamp on things."