A JAKE Belfield hat-trick was the catalyst for a fine Sunderland display on Saturday as they ran out comfortable winners against Hartlepool BBOB.
Further tries from Martin Watt and Tom Townend sealed the bonus point with the final score reading 39-7 to the home side.
Sunderland got off to a good start with Belfield opening the scoring ten minutes in.
A strong charge from prop Damian Martinez took Sunderland into the BBOB 22 where the ball was quickly recycled and passed out to Belfield, who carried two defenders over the line with him to score.
Townend added a conversion and then shortly afterwards extended Sunderland lead with a long-range penalty.
BBOB fought back strongly and scored a try shortly afterwards to reduce the lead to 10-7 but it was to prove one of the few positives for the Hartlepool side.
A second Belfield try and another Townend penalty before half-time saw Sunderland lead 18-7.
With such a tight scoreline, the half time team talk revolved around making sure that Sunderland didn’t have another one of their second-half slumps.
Watt ensured that wouldn’t be the case when he wriggled his way over the line following a powerful drive from the Sunderland pack to extend Sunderland’s lead to 25-7.
Belfield then rounded off his hat-trick. Receiving the ball 15 metres out, it looked like he had been stopped but showing great strength he got the legs pumping to make headway and with a little support from the pack he made it all the way to the line to score.
Sunderland didn’t have everything their own way though and BBOB showed good fighting spirit as they fought back.
The Ashbrooke side, though, aren’t in the game of giving away easy points and despite repeated attempts by Hartlepool, Sunderland’s defence held firm and denied BBOB any further points.
Ian Dobson was sent to the sin bin for being offside at a ruck during this period but it was of no help to Hartlepool.
The try of the day came with the last play of the day when Sunderland spread the ball wide to the left wing.
Good interplay down the wing saw the ball passed between Dan Abraham, Ian Dobson and several others before Townend hit the line at pace and cut BBOB open and score under the posts.
Townend then proceeded to show how much his kicking has improved in recent weeks as he kicked a conversion from in front of the posts to round out another superb display.
Credit must also go to the Sunderland front row, who dominated their opposite numbers providing an excellent platform at the set-piece.
Such was their dominance, BBOB were forced to make a front row substitution with less than 20 minutes gone to bring on a much bigger prop – but this made little difference as Sunderland took BBOB’s scrum against the head time after time.
Sunderland seconds also had a good win as they beat Morpeth 36-5.