SUNDERLAND came back from their week off and hit the ground running with a crushing 25-0 victory over Wallsend on Saturday.
The result saw Sunderland leapfrog their visitors moving into third place in Durham and Northumberland Division Two.
A dominant Sunderland pack set their stall out early on, providing good territory from which to launch their attacks.
The first 15 minutes were spent exclusively in the Wallsend half but Sunderland just couldn’t quite find an opening until Bryan Finlay pounced on a loose ball and broke clear on his own to score just to the right of the sticks.
It has become somewhat of a trademark of Finlay in recent weeks, who has been in great try-scoring form. Tom Townend added the conversion.
Sunderland continued to dominate possession and territory but just couldn’t find the cutting edge to open up the Wallsend defence.
Two Townend penalties extended Sunderland’s lead to 13-0 by half-time, but given the amount of possession they had, the Ashbrooke side would have expected to be further ahead.
The second half started off in a scrappy fashion with neither side really threatening the opposition line.
Sunderland again dominated possession but most of the game was played in the middle third of the field.
As the game entered the final 20 minutes, two quick-fire Sunderland tries ended the game as a contest.
The first try came from man-of-the-match Bryan Finlay, who benefited from a catch and drive line-out close to the Sunderland line.
Finlay’s second try was just desserts for a fine performance that saw him cover every blade of grass, forcing numerous turnovers and putting in some crunching tackles.
Sunderland’s final score came from Martin Watt with a good set-piece move from the scrum.
Watt fed Michael Brace, who in turn passed back to Watt on the loop.
The Wallsend back line bought Watts’ dummy hook, line and sinker, and Watt took advantage of the resulting gap to squeeze over the line.
Although this was probably Sunderland’s best performance of the season, they will still feel that they are yet to fully click and there is a lot more yet to come.