SUNDERLAND put in a barnstorming second half display – capped by a hat-trick from captain Martin Watt – to see off Gosforth and collect all five points at Asbrooke in Durham and Northumberland One on Saturday.
With the game in the balance at half-time, Sunderland were spurred on by memories of their early-season defeat to Gosforth to put in an almost perfect second half in which they scored 22 unanswered points.
The hosts got off to a great start with Sean Bellon opening the scoring early on as he pounced on a fumble from the Gosforth full-back following a kick through the defence from Guy Kingsley Smith.
Greg Littlewood pulled the conversion wide in what would prove to be a frustrating day with the boot for the Sunderland full-back.
Sunderland’s lead didn’t last long though as Gosforth bounced straight back when their winger was first to reach a chip over the top by their centre to level the scores.
Sunderland then allowed Gosforth to take control of the game and the poor discipline, that has been in evidence through large parts of the season, briefly resurfaced as they gave away three penalties in succesion, all converted. Littlewood added a penalty of his own during that time to take the score to 14-8 in Gosforth’s favour.
Sunderland rounded off the half with the first of Watt’s tries. He picked from the base of a ruck close to the Gosforth line and forced his way through a gap to ground the ball. The missed conversion meant Sunderland trailed by a single point as the teams turned round.
Littlewood edged Sunderland ahead early in the second half with a penalty from distance before Watt added two tries to complete his hat-trick and essentially seal the game and the try-scoring bonus point for Sunderland.
On both occasions, Watt was the beneficiary of some destructive scrummaging from the Sunderland tight five as they pushed the Gosforth pack around at will. Despite the efforts of the Gosforth front row to drop the scrum, Watt was able to pick and drive over from a yard out.
Watt’s third try was scored in a similar fashion but this time the Sunderland pack were able to walk Gosforth over the line leaving Watt with the simple task of dropping on the ball to secure his hat-trick and a try-scoring bonus point.
With the clock running down there was time for one last Sunderland score with Mark Henry, forced to play on the wing due to the late withdrawl of Sam Vaughan, on the end of some slick handling from the backline. Henry was able to race clear and touch down to make the final score 35-14.
The second and third team made it three wins from three on the day for Sunderland. The seconds travelled to Winlaton with only 14 players due to a number of withdrawls and were looking to extend their recent run of good results.
Gaz Roberts scored two tries with a guest player from Winlaton also scoring for Sunderland. Danny Hinder added a penalty and a conversion.
The third team won 34-23 at Washington. Sunderland’s points were scored through two tries each for Stevie Graham and John Grainger as well as one apiece for Wallace and Jones. Grainger also added two penalties.