SUNDERLAND left Redcar on Saturday with only a solitary bonus point to show after a lack-lustre display that infuriated their coach and left the Ashbrooke side hugely frustrated with their 18-17 Durham and Northumberland Division Two defeat.
Redcar came out all guns blazing in the opening encounters and dominated territory early on but produced little in the way of try-scoring chances.
In fact, it was Sunderland who would open the scoring when Tom Townend intercepted a stray Redcar pass and raced under the posts with virtually Sunderland’s first touch of the ball to open up a 7-0 lead. Redcar hit back with a penalty to cut the lead to 7-3.
Sunderland then missed the chance to re-establish a seven-point lead when Townend hit the post with a long-range penalty.
It didn’t take long for Sunderland to extend their lead though when some good interplay down the left wing saw Martin Watt go clear and score Sunderland’s second try.
Redcar would have the last say in the half when they again cut Sunderland’s lead.
A good line-out win fed the Redcar backline, who spun the ball wide and put their full-back in for a well deserved try.
The conversion made the half-time score 12-10 to Sunderland.
Despite some stern half-time words from coach Fraser Kennedy, it was Redcar who came out the stronger in the second half dominating possesion and territory.
It wasn’t long before a break down the right wing gave the Teessiders the lead with their second try of the day. The conversion was missed, giving Redcar a 15-12 lead.
Redcar should have been awarded a third try when the crossed down the left flank, but the referee judged that Gavin Stirling had held up the Redcar player, much to the disgust of the home support and players.
Sunderland had the opportunity to draw level with a kickable penalty but instead chose to kick for the corner. They were made to pay for that decision when, after winning the lineout, they were penalised for obstruction at the resulting drive.
Another Redcar penalty extended their lead leaving Sunderland requiring a converted try to win the game.
With time running out, Sunderland pressed hard and made their way into the Redcar 22 and after a number of strong drives by the forwards Jake Bel-field was driven over to give Sunderland a glimmer of hope. The resulting conversion drifted just wide leaving Sunderland one point behind.
There was still a minute on the clock but Redcar closed out the game to take a well-deserved win.
The Sunderland squad were given another stern talking to after the match from a furious Kennedy, who thought the team that wanted it more on the day took the points.
Sunderland will take heart, though, from the fact that despite playing so poorly they came within a single point of beating one of the favourites for promotion – but they know that if they want to mount a serious challenge for promotion they can’t afford many more off days like this.
Sunderland seconds bounced back from last weekend’s defeat to Morpeth with an excellent 50-3 win over Alnwick.