SUNDERLAND’S good run of form came to an abrupt end on Saturday as they were hammered 55-0 by a classy Darlington outfit.
Although they knew they were in for a tough day, Martin Watt’s side were confident of causing an upset but from the off they were second best as Darlington showed why they are pushing for promotion in Durham and Northumberland Division One.
Sunderland’s day got off to a bad start with the news that Ian Dobson had failed to shrug off a foot injury picked up in training on Thursday so some reorganisation was required with Stu Matthews coming into the side at nine and David Bains being moved to fly-half.
Sunderland’s day didn’t get much better when the initial kick-off failed to go ten metres, awarding Darlington a scrum on the half-way line.
Darlington used this as a platform to launch their first attack, swiftly made their way into the Sunderland 22. Although Sunderland rebuffed their first attack, a second scrum shortly after gave the home side the perfect attacking platform from which to release their winger to score his first try of the day.
Darlington continued to pressure and added a penalty to extend their lead.
When Darlington scored their second try after less than ten minutes it was beginning to look like Sunderland were going to be in for a long day. That proved to be the case as Darlington’s forwards bossed the tight game allowing their backs to run riot and break the gain line at will.
Only scrambling defence kept Darlington at bay but it was only a matter of time before they added to their score and a further two tries before half-time gave them a 29-0 lead and try-scoring bonus point.
Sunderland battled hard in the second half but had no answer to the pace and power of the Darlington side, who added a further four tries to run out comprehensive winners.
Neither the seconds nor thirds were able to pick up a pool fixture so had to make do with a hastily arranged inter-club game.
H Houghton produced a brilliant performance at Whitby in their crucial Durham and Northumberland Division Three clash, only to be pipped 39-38 and see the second-top home team move 19 points clear of the third-placed Dairy Lane side.