Sunderland bid for winning hat-trick to end season

Sunderland Under-14s in action against Hartlepool
Sunderland Under-14s in action against Hartlepool
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Rugby Union

Sunderland head into league action this weekend gunning for three wins in a row to finish the season on a winning streak.

With back-to-back victories in Durham and Northumberland League Two over Newton Aycliffe and away to Bishop Auckland, amassing 171 points, the Ashbrooke side are confident of continuing their run at home to Hartlepool at Hill View (3pm).

Chairman Paul Geehan said: “We have a full squad available, so selection is going to be extremely difficult this week.

“We are very confident and the lads are too that they are going to get the win.

“They know how to get that win and we have a lot of exciting backs to run the ball. If we give them the ball and with the room and plenty of grass at Hill View, the victory is something we are more than capable of.”

Meanwhile, the seconds and thirds XV are hosting Corbridge Centurians in a 3pm kick-off at Ryhope Road.

Geehan continued: “We have had good numbers at training at Hill View and there is a really positive attitude around the team at the moment.

“They are looking to finish the season on a good, winning streak, which we are more than capable of doing.”

He added: “What we have, at the moment, are really strong forwards who provide a good platform for our exciting, young backs which are helping us develop a good, open brand of running rugby.”

Meanwhile, a fine team performance saw Sunderland Under-14s notch a notable 29-14 win over a powerful Hartlepool side.

An strong defensive showing, spearheaded by forwards David Matloch, Russell Chapman-Smith and Jai Swalwell, stemmed the visitors’ attacking efforts, with Sunderland creating space to move at the ball at will.

A bulldozing run from centre Vincent Hessel claimed the opening try, with a 40-metre run.

Winger Zak Kennedy reaped Sunderland’s forward domination, latching onto a left-wing pass to score between the posts. Fly-half Chris Rochelle slotted the conversion.

Centre Josh Jobling stretched out to add a third, following an attacking masterclass from the Ashbrooke side.

After the home side spilled a kick-off, Hartlepool grabbed a converted try from a scrum, then added a second converted score after breaking from their own half tp reduce the deficit to 17-14.

The second half saw Sunderland’s forwards continue their domination with multiple pick and goes making inroads into Hartlepool’s back-pedalling defence.

Fly-half Chris Rochelle showed some magical footwork to break free from his own half, converting his own try.

Finally, scrum half Tom Howe picked a sublime line to crash over from five metres, following inroads from Hessel, for the final score.

Thomas Hales and Sam Bates played their parts as the clock wound down, Bates making a crunching tackle on a Hartlepool player, forcing a knock on, before a tenacious run from Hales.