Sunderland thrashed by league leaders

Sunderland take on Morpeth at Ashbrooke.
Sunderland take on Morpeth at Ashbrooke.
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Rugby Union

SUNDERLAND’S miserable season continued with a 69-7 home defeat to Morpeth in Durham and Northumberland One.

Brown got the first of his two tries when following a knock-on, he picked up, danced his way through the Sunderland defence before beating the last man to score.

The promotion-chasing visitors ran in 11 tries against a struggling home defence, who just couldn’t stop the visitors’ onslaught.

Scrum-half Michael Brace’s try and Gavin Stirling’s conversion after nine minutes were all Sunderland had to show for their efforts.

The visitors were ahead after just 27 seconds.

From the kick-off, confusion in the Sunderland ranks allowed flanker Matthew Denton to collect the ball and set up the first phase.

Full-back Adrian Jonas joined the back line to score under the posts. Fly-half Kieran Brown converted to give them a 7-0 lead.

And that lead was doubled without Sunderland touching the ball. Three minutes later, Denton broke through the Sunderland defence to offload to Jonas who ran in unopposed. Brown again converted the simplest of chances.

However, Sunderland replied well. A catch-and-drive from a line-out saw the hosts fall just short of the line. But scrum-half Brace picked up from the base of the ruck to snipe through the Morpeth defence.

Stirling’s drop-kick conversion reduced the gap to seven points.

But that was as good as it got for Sunderland. Brown got the first of his two tries when following a knock-on, he picked up, danced his way through the Sunderland defence before beating the last man to score.

And he didn’t stop there. His quick feet were too much for Sunderland as he skipped through the smallest of gaps in the home defence to score the bonus-point try. His conversion gave them a 28-7 lead.

There was still time for another try before the break too. After a five-metre scrum, prop Greg Henderson looped round to bundle over from close range as the half-time whistle blew.

The second half began like the first ended.

Another set-piece at the line-out allowed Alan Rogers to cut across the field before offloading to Ben Turner to score in the right corner. And they brought up their half century with a quickfire brace of tries on 53 minutes to leave them with a 50-7 advantage.

Pushing for promotion to North One East, Morpeth were keen to get as many points as possible to help their points difference in the final part of the season.

Centre Will Thornton, who had taken over kicking duties for the visitors, then got his name on the scoresheet with five minutes to go when he drove over from close range, before Turner got his second try of the game when he intercepted to run half the pitch unopposed with the Sunderland defence tiring.

And there was time for one last try right on full-time.

Good offload play saw Rogers collect to score.

Thornton converted two out of the three tries to seal a convincing win and leave Sunderland in all sorts of trouble in their aim to beat the drop.