SUNDERLAND endured yet another torrid day as they were well beaten 41-19 by Hartlepool Rovers on Saturday.
They only had themselves to blame for the scoreline and know that they must up their game in the coming weeks, especially defensively, if they are to start making any progress in Durham and Northumberland Division One.
Sunderland’s indiscipline near their own line gifted Rovers an early penalty and it was sloppy defensive work which allowed Rovers to stroll in for a try with less than five minutes on the clock.
Sunderland briefly took the game back to Rovers and a good drive by the pack from a lineout allowed Martin Watt to score. Micheal Walton added the conversion to make the score 10-7.
It was only brief respite for Sunderland, though, as having kicked to the Rovers winger, Sunderland failed to put in an effective chase he rounded one player before chipping over the top and collecting his own kick to race under the posts for a second Rovers try.
Sunderland then went to sleep from a quickly-taken Rovers penalty, which allowed them to cross again to extend their lead further before a fourth try gave Rovers a bonus point before the first half was even finished, turning round 27-7 in front.
Some stern words were had in the Sunderland half-time team talk and they started the second half with a bang when Matt Goforth opened his account for the season.
Goforth was on the end of a great move from the Sunderland backs that put him through a gap and under the posts.
Minutes later, Goforth was in the thick of it again as he sliced through the Rovers defence and rounded the full back to score in the corner.
A missed conversion made the score 27 -19 and the comeback looked to be on.
Unfortunately for Sunderland, they couldn’t add to their tally and eventually ran out of steam as Rovers crossed for two more tries to run out convincing winners.
Despite the defeat, Sunderland know if they can iron out a few of their problems in defence then they can put up a strong challenge against any side in the league.
With their backline functioning for the first time this season and more players due to return in the coming weeks, Sunderland will look to learn lessons from this defeat, starting with the very winnable game against Novocastrians next week.
Sunderland thirds also fell to another defeat against a youthful West End side. Wallace and Swann scored Sunderland’s tries in a 27-12 defeat.