Four wins in a row has eased any relegation worries Sunderland may have had before Christmas and got them eyeing the top half of the table.
A six try victory over Redcar extended Sunderland’s perfect record since the turn of the year as they once again claimed all five points winning 32-3 against the league’s bottom side.
On a pitch that resembled a bog Sunderland couldn’t have started worse with Ian Dobson being sin binned. Redcar missed the resulting penalty but did take a three nil lead a couple of minutes later through a penalty.
Both sides failed to bring any fluidity to there play in a half that was characterised by careless mistakes. Breaks by Ian Dobson and Jamie Maclennan were the only bright moments of a poor half hour for both sides.
Sunderland finally made an impression on the game in the final five minutes of the half with two quick fire tries. The Sunderland pack shepherded Andy Black over for the first score from a textbook catch and drive from a lineout.
Immediately from the restart Martin Watt made a good break and offloaded to Jamie Maclennan who fed Tom Townend allowing him to cross for another Sunderland try. Both conversions were missed and the Sunderland turned round with a 10-3 advantage.
David Bains extended Sunderland’s lead with an early breakaway try and the conversion made the score 17-3.
Greg Littlewood then got in on the act chasing down Tom Townends chip through to add another score and extend Sunderlands lead to 22-3 and with it confirm their try scoring bonus point.
By this point Sunderland were rampant with some good interplay from the forwards allowed Pete Harrison to cross for Sunderland’s fifth try of the day.
Not wanting to miss out captain Martin Watt added to his already impressive try tally for the season as he rounded off the Sunderland scoring. Breaking from the base of the scrum Watt handed off one tackler before breaking through a second tackle and crossing for a good score.
A final score of 32-3 was probably a fair reflection on the game but Sunderland.
Sunderland seconds continued their impressive run with a last gasp victory over the crew of HMS Chattham. It was to be the final game for the crew of the Sunderland built ship before it is decommissioned but it looked like it was going to be a dismal day for them as Sunderland piled on the points early doors.
Dom Watson opened the scoring for Sunderland breaking clear to score under the posts. Pete Carter kicked the conversion.
Penny was next on the scoresheet the beneficiary of a pushover from the Sunderland scrum. Sunderland’s lead was extended further when Stu Matthews crossed for his sixth try in three games. Again the Sunderland scrum proved too powerful for the Navy side and Matthews was able to benefit, picking from the base of the scrum to cross untouched for an easy try.
The Sunderland pack were the dominant feature of the first half and next it was Adam Smith who was on the end of a catch and drive move from fifteen metres out to give Sunderland a half time lead of 22-0.
Sunderland thought they had the game in the bag but HMS Chattham were not going down without a fight. Having no subs they were forced to lend Dom Watson who followed up his first half score for Sunderland with two tries for the Navy. The first was an interception from half way and the second was on the end of a good backs move.
Spurred on by their early success the Navy side went on to dominate the second half with poor tackling from Sunderland allowing the touring side’s backs to run riot.
Two further tries for the Navy brought the scores level at 22-22 with five minutes left. Another great scrum from the pack put Sunderland on the front foot. Adam Smith picked from the scrum and was stopped just short but Bry Finlay was on hand to make up the last yard and score Sunderland’s match winning try. The conversion made the final score 29-22.
Sunderland thirds lost out in a close game with Bishop Auckland seconds. The final score was 7-6 with John Grainger kicking Sunderlands points.
H Durham City’s home North One East clash with Carlisle was postponed due to a frozen Hollow Drift pitch. In Durham and Northumberland and Division Three, Washington’s game at Whitby was also called off, as was Seaham’s visit to Newton Aycliffe.