SUNDERLAND picked up a full five points away to Hartlepool on Saturday, but they were left frustrated at another Jekyll and Hyde performance which saw them produce some scintillating rugby in the first half but unable to back that up asfter the break.
Two tries from Jake Belfield and one each from Matt Goforth and Dom Arkley had the bonus point wrapped up before half-time in the Durham and Northumberland Division Two clash, with the hosts not troubling the scoreboard.
Goforth and Arkley both scored superb individual tries down the right wing, going half the length of the field, past several Hartlepool tacklers, before scoring in the right corner.
Belfield’s first try was a superb team effort. Goforth again broke down the right but was stopped just inside the Hartlepool 22. The ball then went through several pairs of hands, with forwards and backs interlinking as the ball was spread the width of the pitch before Belfield popped up on the wing to score.
Belfield’s second try was the result of some good old fashioned forward grunt work.
Several powerful drives took Sunderland to within a couple of metres of the line and once again Belfield was there to provide the finishing surge over the Hartlepool line.
Tom Townend added a penalty and two conversions leaving the half-time score a commanding 27-0.
The second half was a totally different affair.
Everything that had worked well in the first half seemed to desert Sunderland.
In fairness to Hartlepool, they upped their game and playing down the hill helped them take the game to Sunderland, with their blindside flanker in particular proving a real thorn in the visitors’ side.
An early try pegged Sunderland’s lead back to make the score 27-5, but that proved to be the last of the scoring.
Sunderland struggled to put any phases together and spent much of the second period in their own half.
On a positive note, Sunderland’s defence held strong and Hartlepool despite having a lot of possession never looked like threatening the Sunderland line too often.
Despite the second-half frustrations, it proved to be a good win for Sunderland with all five points keeping their promotion push on track and maintaining the pressure on Ryton and Whitley Bay at the top.