Sunderland ready for tough Rockcliff test after welcome victory

Sunderland (white shirts) battle to victory against Richmondshire last weekend. Picture by Tim Richardson.
Sunderland (white shirts) battle to victory against Richmondshire last weekend. Picture by Tim Richardson.
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Sunderland’s first XV look forward to short away trip to Whitley Bay Rockcliff in Durham/Northumberland Division Two on Saturday.

The Ashbrooke outfit will look to field a relatively unchanged squad after making a winning start to 2018.

Their comprehensive 35-14 win over Richmondshire last weekend lifted Sunderland to eighth place in the table.

But they face a tough encounter against one of the league’s form teams, with Rockcliff lodged in second place in the league.

Both sides played their part in a well contested league fixture at Ashbrooke earlier this season, which the visitors claimed in a 31-19 win.

But Sunderland’s management are confident of sustaining their winning form, with players now returning from injury to bolster their youthful squad.

Sunderland Under-14s suffered mixed fortunes in a double header in Cleveland at the weekend.

Battling through thick mud, the youths managed a 15-5 win over Middlesbrough, before going down 21-0 to in-form home side Guisborough, who are through to the Yorkshire Cup quarter-finals.

Sunderland opened the scoring against Middlesbrough, as Vincent Hessel used his ferocious pace and sidesteps to work his way up the pitch and score underneath the posts.

The other two tries were thanks to the brute strength of Sunderland’s forwards. David Matloch and Adam Williams continuously pressed the Boro defence, and eventually broke through to score a try apiece.

Centre and skipper Josh Jobling created plenty of chances throughout the match and scrum-half Tom Howe and fly-half Chris Rochelle continued to develop their chemistry as they kept the opposition on the back foot with quick passes from the breakdowns.

However, despite his valiant efforts, Rochelle could not convert, leaving the scoreline at 15-5.

The U14s visit Stockton in the quarter-finals of the Durham County Cup on Sunday (11am kick-off).

Sunderland Flames, the club’s women’s team, went down to a heavy 43-6 loss to Barnsley Ladies at Ashbrooke in Championship North 2.