SUNDERLAND saw themselves return to old habits when they travelled to Darlington, where missed tackles and silly mistakes cost them dearly in a 38-10 loss, writes Greg Littlewood.
Despite Sunderland’s bright start to the game, it was not long before Darlington got the first points of the day.
After a good spell of possession on the Sunderland 22, Darlington managed to offload in a couple of tackles, which allowed a clean run for one of the centres.
Continued pressure from the home side forced mistakes from Sunderland and missed tackles led to their second and third tries, with their fourth coming from a catch and drive just before half-time, making it 24-0.
Stern words were said by both captain Martin Watt and coach Fras Kennedy at the break which seemed to spark some sort of confidence in the second half.
Sunderland again started well, as they had in the first half, but were able to turn pressure into points this time.
A lineout on Darlington’s 22 and a good platform set by the forwards made room down the blindside for Ross Finch to cross in the corner.
Darlington responded immediately, cancelling out Sunderland’s effort, but they soon found themselves a man short as ill- discipline saw one of their players in the sin bin.
The Ashbrooke side were able to make their numerical advantage count with a number of phases, which saw them on their opponents’ 22 and another blindside attack saw Pete Harrison score in the corner.
It was Darlington who scored the last points of the day when they scored from a catch and drive lineout.
Martin Watt said: “We spoke before kick-off about what we needed to do to stand a chance against this strong Darlington side.
“Unfortunately, we missed one-on-one tackles and simple errors gifted them a 20-point head start.”
Sunderland welcome Ashington to Ashbrooke next week.
H Houghton, under new coach Chris Simpson, found their trip to Yorkshire fruitful, beating Richmondshire 16-10.
A converted try to bring the score to 10-0 at the break and a penalty in the last minute sealed the win.
Durham City’s trip to Teesside to take on Billingham was far less productive, however, as they were hammered 50-5 by the top of the table side in North One East.