SUNDERLAND finished Saturday’s clash with 13 men as they lost out to a well-organised Alnwick side 34-19.
Despite a pleasing performance, injuries were the main crippling point to Sunderland’s day, with four players being forced off and only three substitutes to use.
Two tries from Greg Littlewood and another from Pete Harrison saw an impressive display of rugby from the Ashbrooke side, but having to play the last 10 minutes with 13 players ruined any chance of a comeback.
Sunderland started the game well and had a decent spell of possession, but it was silly mistakes which gave Alnwick the first points of the game from a breakaway try and it wasn’t long before they increased their lead with a second try to take the score to 12-0.
This made Sunderland step up a gear and it was a back line move from a scrum that handed them their first try.
A simple miss-pass was enough to hand Littlewood enough space to beat his man and the covering full back to score in the corner.
Once again, Sunderland’s efforts were undone by their own mistakes as Alnwick picked up on a loose ball and ran in another try, making the half-time score 19-5.
The home side then pushed themselves further ahead with another try immediately after the break and looked like they could start to run away with the game.
However, Sunderland had other ideas as they pushed hard to cut the deficit.
Pressure paid off after a number of good phases and ball retention in the forwards in Alnwick’s 22 and it was Pete Harrison who forced himself over the line from a metre out, Littlewood converting.
Sunderland found themselves straight back on the offensive and quickly scored their final try of the day which came from another well practised backs’ move.
The ball was passed wide to Mark Henry, who sprinted for the corner before being tackled just short of the line
However, he managed to pop the ball up to Littlewood, who was in close support, to score and convert to take the score to 24-19.
The final 10 minutes saw Sunderland’s injury problems worsen and Craig Elstob being sin-binned for ill discipline meant they ended the game with 13 players.
The resulting penalty was scored, pushing a possible losing bonus point out of reach for Sunderland.
Alnwick finished with a well-worked try as they used their numerical advantage count, making the final score 34-19.