SUNDERLAND’S disappointing start to the season continued on Saturday as they ran out of gas in the second half to lose out 38-19 to Ryton.
It was a lot closer until the final 20 minutes when Ryton ran in four tries.
Four late withdrawls in the Sunderland backline didn’t help their preparation for the game and meant they had to start with no backs replacement.
In sweltering conditions, Sunderland battled hard from the off, but it was Ryton who looked the more likely to open the scoring with a number of half breaks.
A scrambling Sunderland defence managed to keep Ryton out in the early stages before Guy Kingsley-Smith pounced on a loose Ryton pass in the Sunderland 22 and managed to race the length of the field to put Sunderland into the lead. Kingsley-Smith added an easy conversion for 7-0.
Ryton hit back with a try of their own shortly after as they eventually got something to show for their greater share of possession and territory. The missed conversion meant Sunderland had a slender 7-5 lead.
Sunderland suffered a major blow as the game headed towards half-time when flanker John Drummond suffered a dislocated elbow in the process of making a tackle. The game was held up for 15 minutes while Drummond received treatment on the pitch.
There were no more scores after play resumed and the teams turned round with Sunderland in the lead.
The second half continued in a similar vein to the first although Sunderland saw a little more of the ball. A penalty kicked to the corner set the platform for a Sunderland catch and drive line-out which steamrollered its way towards and over the Ryton line.
Jake Belfield came up from the bottom of the maul with ball in hand to claim the try and extend Sunderland’s lead to 12-5.
As the game progressed, Sunderland started to tire in the testing conditions and Ryton managed to get back level through a try down the left wing.
Sunderland battled on but with 20 minutes to go Ryton took the lead for the first time with another try which opened the floodgates as Ryton’s pacey outside backs cut loose. A further three tries in quick succession confirmed Ryton’s bonus point victory.
A late consolation try from Mick Matthews cut the deficit with the last play of the game but in the end Ryton won by a comfortable margin.
Sunderland seconds also lost out to Ryton, losing 26-15. Sam Jordan and Rob Stormont scored tries while Jordan also added a conversion and a penalty.
A miserable day for Sunderland was rounded off as Ryton took a clean sweep of the day’s fixtures with a 31-10 victory against the thirds. Andrew Turnbull scored Sunderland’s only try. John Grainger added a conversion and a penalty.