SUNDERLAND Flames lost out to a controversial last-minute try when they were pipped 24-22 by Liverpool Collegiate in the Women’s National Challenge North One.
Sunderland made a perfect start when the ball travelled through just about every pair of hands on the side before full-back Helen Jones raced over to open the scoring.
Within minutes, the Flames were two tries up after another quick-tap penalty from scrum-half Jenny Snowdon set Amanda Hilton away to score her first ever try.
But Sunderland’s momentum was lost when fly-half Keshia Brennan was forced off with a broken tibia. A 40-minute delay ensued while awaiting an ambulance, with Brennan’s wellbeing understandably on the players’ minds.
Upon the restart, Liverpool bounced back and clawed back a try of their own.
It was a wake-up call for Sunderland, and Jones again touched down to restore the lead, though Liverpool rallied with a try early in the second period.
Sunderland counter-attacked, with winger Louise Henderson sneaking over in the corner, yet Liverpool broke weary tackles to cut the deficit to five points going into the dying minutes.
The Merseysiders continued to pressure Sunderland’s defence up to the five metre line, playing the ball out wide, and one pass that appeared to be knocked forward was controversially deemed otherwise by the referee.
Play continued and Liverpool made it across the line. It all came down to the conversion, which, heart-breakingly for Sunderland, sailed through the posts.
Sunderland were understandably devastated to lose out in the final seconds, but skipper Snowdon said: “That’s rugby. Some go your way, some don’t.
“We played out of our skins and tried our best to do it for Keshia, but sometimes it’s just not to be.
“We will take the positives, of which there were many, and come back stronger next time.”
Their next match is scheduled against Ormskirk on October 6.