Tough victory makes hard work worth it for Sunderland

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SUNDERLAND were made to work hard by a tenacious Guisborough side before running out 23-14 winners on Saturday.

Sunderland made a good start and looked dangerous with ball in hand but went behind to an early Guisborough try.

The ball was kicked into the Sunderland 22 and poor handling on the kick return saw the ball spilled. A Guisborough centre was first to get his boot to the ball and hacked through to the try area and just beat Bellon to get the touchdown.

Earlier in the season, such early setbacks had set the tone for Sunderland’s day, but at the moment they have a new-found confidence in the backline.

Despite the early setback, Sunderland continued to throw the ball around and it was a good break from Tom Townend in the centres which led to Guisborough conceding a penalty in front of the posts. Bellon duly added the three points.

Sunderland then went back on the attack and won another penalty within kicking distance.

Captain Martin Watt made the brave decision to turn down the three points and kicked to the corner. The forwards repaid Watt’s faith by powering over the line from a catch-and-drive lineout, Pete Harrison claiming the touchdown.

Sunderland received a blow midway through the first half when Ian Dobson was forced from the field through injury.

However, Sunderland need not have worried as youngster Guy Kingsley Smith made his first competitive appearance for the first team and looked assured and composed from the off.

Guisborough then scored a second try to take the lead before Bellon scored for Sunderland from a move which started deep in their own half.

Good interplay between the backs put Bellon in the clear and after exchanging passes with the impressive Greg Littlewood, he rounded the full-back to complete a great score. Bellon added the extras to give Sunderland a 15-14 half-time lead.

Guisborough came out with all guns blazing in the second half, throwing everything they had at Sunderland.

The defence held strong, though and Guisborough never came close to scoring a try. They were restricted to one long-distance penalty attempt which drifted wide.

Sunderland refused to panic and went on to add a penalty to extend their lead on a rare visit to the Guisborough half.

Martin Watt then added the try of the day from a move which started just outside their own 22.

Kingsley Smith, Townend, Goforth, Bellon and Littlewood all got their hands on the ball before Watt popped up on the end of the move after racing 80 metres in support to score in the corner.

Bellon missed the conversion, but the try was enough to give Sunderland the victory and deny Guisborough a losing bonus point.

H Sunderland seconds claimed their first victory of the season, overcoming a mixed Bishop Auckland first and second team 17-12.

Sunderland’s points came through tries for Danny Hinder and Paul Hands and seven points from the boot of Michael Walton.

An influx of new players boosted the squad, with scrum-half Henry making a good impression while Roberts was outstanding in the centres once again.

Backed up with support from old-timers like John Padgett and an excellent defensive display from Adam Reay, the rest of the season now looks a lot brighter for the second team.

H Sunderland thirds rounded off the day in good fashion with a 19-17 win over Winlaton.

Tries came from Graham, Wright and Duff, and there were two conversions from Grainger.