Sunderland under way with big win

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SUNDERLAND ran out comprehensive 76-0 winners in a massively one-sided game against Prudhoe and Stocksfield on Saturday.

Despite the overwhelming nature of the 12-try victory, Sunderland will have learned very little from a game against a side that looks destined to struggle at the foot of Durham and Northumberland Division Two.

Sunderland, though, will take confidence in the fact that they have put together back-to-back victories for the first time in a long while and that they have set a marker for the rest of the league to sit up and take notice of.

The opening of the first half was relatively competitive.

Sunderland were a bit rusty and a number of knock-ons and handling errors stopped them in their tracks on a number of occasions while the boot of the Prudhoe and Stocksfield fly-half looked to be the only way they were going to make any ground.

Ian Dobson opened the scoring with a well-sold dummy allowing him to go clear and under the posts. Townend kicked the conversion for a 7-0 lead.

Michael Heffernan extended Sunderland lead when he popped up on the wing to take advantage of some good interplay between John Drummond and Bryan Finlay which cut the Prudhoe and Stocksfield defence wide open.

An overthrown Prudhoe and Stocksfield five-metre line-out gave Martin Watt the simplest of chances.

Dan Abraham rounded off the first-half scoring and secured Sunderland a bonus point when he was on the end of some good backs play by Sunderland. That made the half-time score 24-0.

The second half was all one-way traffic with eight tries for Sunderland as gaps galore appeared in the tiring Prudhoe defence. Tom Townend showed a mixture of quick thinking and elusive running to score his first two tries of a season before powering over from close range to complete his hat-trick.

Not to be outdone, Dan Abraham added a further three tries to his first half effort, the best of which saw Sunderland go the length of the field.

Heffernan went through a gap in the Prudhoe defence and after making 40m played a nice switch with Abraham who went a further 30 metres past several defenders to score under the posts.

Watt scored his second try of the game before Craig O’Donovan marked his first-team league debut with a 60-metre break which ended under the posts to round off the scoring for the day.

A youthful Sunderland second team travelled to Morpeth having been forced to make several changes to the squad originally named.

Despite a narrow 17-10 defeat, team manager Graeme Brown was full of praise for a good all-round effort.

He said: “We could have won the game. For the last 25 minutes, we kept knocking but just couldn’t get in.”

Sunderland put in a great defensive effort for most of the game and had it not been for allowing two soft Morpeth tries, they could well have triumphed.

One of the elder statesmen of the Sunderland squad, Michael Brace scored one of Sunderland’s tries with youngster Liam Evans adding the second.

Brown has urged all second team players to get down to training this week at Ashbrooke to build on a promising start to the season.