Fighting spirit is not enough for Sunderland

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A NIGHTMARE week for Sunderland coach Fras Kennedy ended in a predictable defeat – 52-14 away to second top Guisborough in Durham/Northumberland One.

Kennedy had to make eight changes to the squad originally selected – yet the performance from the team deserved more.

Forced to take a squad consisting of 14 forwards and three backs, it was always going to be an uphill battle.

Things didn’t get any better when John Drummond was forced from the field after the first tackle of the game with a bad cut above his eye.

Despite this, Sunderland started strongly and opened the scoring with a Dan Hinder penalty after five minutes.

Guisborough hit straight back and exposed Sunderland’s lack of experience in the back line to score their first try of the day out wide.

When Guisborough scored a second try minutes later, it looked like the writing was on the wall for Sunderland already.

But the visitors showed a spirit that has been missing so far this season and took the game to Guisborough with two more Hinder penalties bringing the score back to 14-9.

Unfortunately, Sunderland’s injury jinx struck again 15 minutes in when Craig Elstob was knocked unconscious and was unable to take any further part in the game. That left Sunderland having to complete the game with a pack that included five front row forwards.

Despite the upheaval, Sunderland continued to push Guisborough hard but with four forwards in the Sunderland back line, Guisborough were always going to have the edge out wide and two more tries before half-time gave Guisborough a comfortable lead.

Sunderland’s day was summed up five minutes into the second half when Ryan Buckley suffered a potentially serious leg injury and after several minutes treatment on the pitch, he was carried off, leaving the team to play the rest of the game with 14 men.

Despite this, Sunderland were next to score when Jake Belfield was able to touch down after a great drive from the Sunderland scrum from five metres out.

Unfortunately for Sunderland, that was to be the highlight of their day as despite a spirited effort their 14 men were unable to contain Guisborough’s backs.

Although Guisborough didn’t have everything their own way, they were still able to run in a further four tries to make the scoreline rather harsh on Sunderland.