Sunderland outclassed by Alnwick

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DESPITE a much-improved performance, Sunderland were comfortably outclassed 30-11 by a well-drilled Alnwick side in a game cut short by a serious injury to Sunderland winger Jamie Maclennan.

It looked like it was going to be a long day for a Sunderland side, which saw four changes to the named back line due to late cry-offs, when early Alnwick pressure and poor Sunderland tackling resulted in an early try down the left wing.

Sunderland came back strongly, though and forced a penalty shortly after the restart which was converted by Tom Townend to make the early score 5-3.

Townend had the opportunity to give Sunderland the lead shortly afterwards, but his penalty from the touchline drifted just right of the posts.

Alnwick then extended their lead when Sunderland kicked the ball to the Alnwick full-back and failed to put in any kind of co-ordinated chase.

The Alnwick full-back evaded tackles at will and managed to run half the length of the pitch without a Sunderland defender laying a hand on him. The conversion made the score 12-3.

The game was closely contested for large parts and both sides swapped penalties before half-time as they turned around with Alnwick leading 15-6.

Alnwick had shown glimpses of what their backline could do, but stout Sunderland defence kept them at bay until midway through the second half, when two quick tries sealed an Alnwick bonus point and the victory.

It was an individual piece of skill from the Alnwick right winger that created Alnwick’s third try, chipping over and then outpacing the Sunderland defence before touching down.

The bonus point try came through a loose play from Sunderland at the lineout as they coughed up possession and Alnwick capitalised with a breakaway down the right wing.

Sunderland raised hopes of a comeback when substitute Michael Brace took advantage of a powerful Sunderland scrum from five metres out, touching down as the pack powered their Alnwick counterparts over the line.

Thoughts of a late comeback were short- lived when good Alnwick handling in the backline allowed their outside centre to cut a superb line and race 40 metres to seal the win.

The game was then halted for an extended period when Jamie Maclennan suffered a sickening bang to the head which saw him lie unconscious for several minutes.

With an ambulance required to attend, both captains agreed to end the game early. Although Maclennan was taken to hospital as a precaution, he was later released with no major damage sustained.

Sunderland seconds were unable to pick up a fixture.