HORDEN triumphed 25-13 in a hard-fought contest on Saturday, clinically taking advantage of Sunderland mistakes to claim a bonus point victory.
Despite a much-improved display from Sunderland, their lack of a cutting edge in the back line – combined with the individual errors that have blighted their season so far – meant that once again they would come off second best.
Horden got off to the better start , immediately putting pressure on the Sunderland 22 but a much-improved Sunderland defence kept Horden out early on.
But after soaking up a lot of pressure in their own 22, it was inevitable that Horden would come away with some points. From a scrum in the home 22, Andy Raine broke blind and drew the defender before feeding Craig Jones to go in at the corner to make it 5-0.
Sunderland responded well and went on the offence, controlling the game for the next 10 minutes.
It looked like Sunderland would level the scores as some sustained pressure saw their forwards cross the line only to have the ball stolen before Horden launched an attack from behind their own line. Newton Turton ripped the ball out of the middle of a maul and broke all the way to halfway. The skipper fed the supporting Daz Witte, who released Jones, who outpaced the defence to go under the posts for his second try, which he converted .
Again Sunderland came back strongly and spent the majority of the rest of the half in Horden territory, but their only reward was a penalty by Chris Geehan with the last kick of the half.
The second half started fairly evenly but when Michael Brace spotted a gap round the fringe of a ruck on halfway he was able to make good ground before feeding Clive Fish, who crossed unchallenged.
Sunderland now had the bit between their teeth and were putting good pressure on Horden but were again hit with a sucker punch.
Chris Purvis made a good break down the left wing but the ball ended up in touch. He reacted quickly and threw the ball American football-style to Scott Holloway, who fed Jones who again put his foot on the gas to complete his hat-trick. Jones could not convert but he soon added a penalty to make it 20-10.
Sunderland were given hope when Horden’s Witte was shown a straight red card for dissent with 15 minutes to go. Geehan kicked the penalty and put Sunderland back within seven points.
The sending off seemed to inspire Horden, though, and they kicked a penalty almost immediately afterwards to recapture their seven-point advantage.
The game and bonus point for Horden was wrapped up when another breakaway try ended Sunderland’s hopes.
Good hands in the three-quarters put Purvis away. He was stopped just short after a good break but Raine was on hand to nip over in the corner.
It was a bad day all round for Sunderland as the seconds lost out 57-19 to a strong Mowden Park side. Adam Reay, Ben Gallimore and Jonny Parker scored tries with Gavin adding two conversions.
Sunderland thirds lost out to Ashington by 38-18. The good news was that first team prop Ryan Buckley made his comeback from injury, scoring one of Sunderland’s tries. John Grainger scored the rest of Sunderland’s points with a try, two penalties and a conversion.