Sunderland Under-13s were made to work hard for a narrow, but entertaining 21-17 success at blustery Bishop Auckland.
The lads got off to a perfect start after a quick ball from Tye Hanlon found its way to Farai Chickumbrike, whose pace took him under the posts for a brilliant try, converted by Dean Edmundson.
Sunderland looked sharp and they went 14-0 ahead with another scintillating run from Chickumbrike after a good break from Fletcher Jackson, with Edmundson again converting.
Bishop responded and looked to have scored, but excellent defending from Sunderland kept them at bay.
Hanlon gained ground with a surge upfield, but the hosts won the ball back and a excellent individual try was scored by their full-back to cut the deficit to seven points at half-time.
The second half started with a third Sunderland try.
Jackson showed great determination to go through a number of tackles and stretch his arm out to reach over the try line, with Ben Hutchinson adding the conversion.
Bishop fought back again though and their full-back’s second try got them within nine points at 21-12.
They almost scored again, but a great tackle from Bradley Lindsay took their winger into touch.
A good move started by Chickumbrike, who found Edmundson, who went on a run and sent a kick through. Edmundson chased the ball over the line, but couldn’t quite get the final touch.
Bishop replied yet again when a Sunderland line-out backfired and they scored a great try in the corner, setting up a tense finish, but the visitors held their nerve.