IT was another miserable day for Sunderland on Saturday as they lost for the second time this season, going down 31-17 to Gosforth in Durham and Northumberland Division One.
The day got off to a bad start when Sunderland’s injury jinx struck once again, with Matt Goforth suffering a cut above the eye in the warm-up, forcing him out of the game.
With Guy Kingsley Smith having already withdrawn from the squad, the reshuffle left Sunderland with two forwards in the backline and Adam Reay playing out of position on the wing.
A tight first half was dominated by the boot, with neither side having any real clear-cut try scoring opportunity.
Michael Walton kicked two penalties, with Gosforth slightly edging ahead at half-time, their three penalties making the score 9-6.
The second half was only seconds old when Sunderland drew level with another Walton penalty.
A Gosforth second row was sin binned for punching early in the second half, with many spectators surprised the card wasn’t red.
Despite their numerical disadvantage, they managed to pressure the Sunderland defence with a fourth penalty, edging them ahead.
With Gosforth restored to their full complement, the game was still well and truly in the balance when Sunderland took the lead for the first time, a well-worked lineout providing the foundations for the game’s opening try.
Andy Wordsworth cleanly won the ball in the middle of the lineout and dropped off to Pete Carter at the front.
Pete Harrison formed the maul with Carter and supported by the front row of Robson and Arrowsmith, Harrison was driven over the line. Walton missed the conversion to make the score 14-12 in Sunderland’s favour.
However, the lead was not long-lived as Gosforth struck straight back with a try of their own.
Some sloppy Sunderland tackling in centre field allowed Gosforth to get on the front foot and some slick handling in their backs set their right winger away to score in the corner. The conversion gave Gosforth a 19-14 lead.
Sunderland went further behind when, again, a combination of poor Sunderland tackling and good Gosforth handling saw them break clear for a second try, although there was a distinct hint of crossing that went unnoticed by the referee.
Sunderland pulled back to within losing bonus point range as another Walton penalty made the score 24-17, but with almost the last play of the game, Gosforth broke down the left wing from inside their own half to complete the scoring, with the final try giving Gosforth a 31-17 victory.
A miserable day for the club was compounded by defeats for the seconds and thirds.
Tries by Sean Marshall and Paul Hands, as well as 11 points from the boot of David Bains, weren’t enough to stop the seconds losing 25-21 to Gateshead Thirds.
Sunderland Thirds also faced Gateshead, losing out 17-15 to their fourth team. Michael Simpson scored two tries and John Grainger kicked a conversion and a penalty.