SUNDERLAND’S depressing start to the campaign continued wirth a 39-12 defeat at Hartlepool Rovers.
It’s now four defeats out of four, with little sign of improvement from the Ashbrooke men.
The first half was a nervous affair with Rovers trying to run the ball but creating few chances and they were trapped in their own half for long periods.
A first half stoppage try for Liam Austwicke was arguably the turning point in the match with Rovers then cutting lose after the break to run in a further five tries.
Rovers took the lead with a penalty but Sunderland gained the lead when Ryan Buckley powered over after Andy Wordsworth had spotted a gap in the defensive line.
In added time, a superb flowing attack from Rovers ended in a converted try to make it 10-5 at the break.
The second half was only five minutes old when Rovers went over again and soon after the lead was stretched to 22-5.
It was now all Rovers and on 52 minutes a score under the posts left Sunderland reeling. Another try left them rattled but, to their credit, they fought back and after two disrupted scrums close to the home line, the visitors sensed a penalty try was in the offing.
It was duly awarded by referee Philip Walton after a huge push saw the front rows pop up a third time, Dobson converting.
The Friaragemen finished the match on the attack and were rewarded when Grand collected to run in from 12 metres after neat breaks by Sainty and Michael Barnfield whose conversion rebounded off the right upright.