SUNDERLAND suffered a bitterly disappointing 40-18 loss at Ashington on Saturday.
A superb second-half performance saw the Northumberland side score 28 unanswered points, as they clinched just their third win of the season in Durham and Northumberland Division Two.
Several withdrawals through the week, including one on Saturday morning, meant Sunderland went into the game with a rejigged backline which included two forwards, Martin Watt at centre and James Hanson on the wing.
In wet and windy conditions, both sides had a nervy start but it was Sunderland who opened the scoring early on. A penalty kicked to the corner resulted in a well-worked catch and drive line-out that saw Pete Harrison crash over.
Sunderland didn’t hold the lead long, though.
A strong Ashington scrum five metres from the Sunderland line allowed Ashington the platform for their Number 8 to pick and go and crash over. The conversion gave Ashington a 7-5 lead.
Sunderland came back strongly and John Drummond broke clear of the Ashington defence to reinstate Sunderland’s lead. Tom Atkinson’s conversion made it 12-5.
An Atkinson penalty extended Sunderland’s lead before poor discipline from the visitors gifted Ashington possesion in the Sunderland 22.
After going through a number of phases, sloppy defending round the fringes of a ruck allowed the Ashington scrum-half to sneak over the line, leaving Sunderland 15-12 ahead at the break.
Sunderland then started the second half well and for the first ten minutes were the better side.
Atkinson extended the Sunderland lead to 18-12 with a penalty which saw an Ashington player sin-binned.
But despite the numerical disadvantage, Ashington took the game to the Ashbrooke side using the wind at their backs to good effect to play the game largely in the visitors’ 22.
From then on, it was all one-way traffic. Sunderland’s normally solid defence let them down and Ashington added two further tries.
With time running out, Sunderland’s cause wasn’t helped when first Peter Carter and then Andrew Wordsworth were sent to the sin bin to leave Sunderland to see out the game with 13 men.
Ashington added one more try to see them claim a well-deserved victory.
Sunderland lie third in Division Two, behind leaders Whitley Bay Rockcliff and Ryton.
H In Division One, Horden are fourth top after beating Medicals 36-24.
Durham City are two places further adrift after a 15-12 defeat at home to Blyth.