SUNDERLAND fell agonisingly short of picking up their first win of the season as Ryton ran out 20-16 victors in Saturday’s Durham and Northumberland Division One clash.
Again Sunderland were forced to juggle their side about with four forwards having to start in the backline – but despite this, the Ashbrooke side started the brighter.
Jake Belfield hit the post with an early penalty, but Sunderland weren’t to be denied for too long as a penalty from Chris Geehan and a try from Andy Mackie gave them an early 8-0 lead.
Mackie’s try came from a typical Sunderland scrummage which shunted the Ryton pack back over their own line for Mackie to touch down.
Ryton came roaring straight back, though, aided by a yellow card to James Tolley for a dangerous tackle, and a converted try as well as a penalty reversed the fortunes to give the visitors a 10-8 advantage.
Geehan then added a second penalty to give Sunderland an 11-10 half-time lead.
The talk in the Sunderland camp at half-time was to keep up the pressure and not give Ryton any easy points – but it was the visitors who started the second half the better side and a sloppy Sunderland defence let Ryton in for an easy score.
Ryton should have been out of sight midway through the second half as they were awarded a succesion of kickable penalties, but, luckily for Sunderland, their kicker had an off-day and was only able to add three points to their tally.
Sunderland started to crank up the pressure, spending a lot of time in the Ryton 22 and they were finally rewarded with a try from Michael Brace, who darted over from close range.
At 20-16 down, Sunderland believed they could win and were again camped in the Ryton 22. The chance of a kickable penalty was turned down as Sunderland pushed for the try that would win the game, but it wasn’t to be and they had to make do with a losing bonus point.
H In Division Two, Seaham lost out 15-8 at home to Novocastrians.