REDCAR proved to be Sunderland’s bogey side once again as they left Ashbrooke with four points on Saturday – leaving the hosts empty-handed and denting their promotion hopes in Durham and Northumberland Division One.
Late cry-offs to an already depleted squad did not help Sunderlands cause and forced them to name coach Fraser Kennedy, at 41 years old, on the subs bench.
Sunderland gained an early lead with a penalty, but bad communication in the new centre partnership allowed Redcar to hit back to go 5-3 up. The home side hit straight back with a second penalty to regain the lead, but they could not hold on as Redcar came straight back.
A penalty was kicked to the corner and Sunderland could not cope as the Redcar second row peeled round the back of the line-out and crashed over to give the visitors a 12-6 half-time lead.
The second half saw Redcar take the game to Sunderland and a powerful surge by their forwards resulted in a try, despite an apparent blatant knock-on from the number eight.
Sunderland fought back to within bonus point range when Michael Heffernan went over for a try.
Sunderland then piled on the pressure and two scrums were illegally stopped close to the Redcar line. A Redcar flanker was sent to the sin bin, but a penalty try that Sunderland thought they deserved was not forthcoming – and the Teessiders’ defence held out.
Redcar then put the pressure back on Sunderland and a late drop goal denied Sunderland even a bonus point as Redcar sealed a well-deserved 22-13 win.