Best performance of the season cut short by a serious injury
Report by Tyler Holmes
A strong 3s squad travelled to Sunderland RFC’s Ashbrooke Sports Club for their first official league game of the season. With the 2s not having a game, 21 players were available to play against the Wearsiders including 2nd team fan favourites Corey Blacklock and Jonni Manning. As for the rest of the squad, it consisted of most of the players from last week’s outing to Winlaton, with notable absences from the young Michael Eckstein, who had an appointment to get a perm at the hairdressers, Sandis, who was away down south to watch a Take That Tribute Band and Chris Telfer who was sadly still mourning the loss of Chas from 80s pop duo Chas and Dave. Apparently since the news broke all Chris has eaten is rabbit and won’t leave the house without his flat cap and braces.
As for the game, Gateshead started very brightly with some strong runs in the back line and some effective tackling throughout the squad. This good start to the game paid off with a well worked team try finished by Blacklock. The try itself was created by some very patient and effective build up play, where no less than 11 of the Gateshead team passed and recycled the ball before falling to Blacklock on the wing who ran it in to make it 5-0. A real high quality team try which was initiated by a well won scrum and which seemed to shock the home team. Following this, Sunderland seemed to get into the game and made a few breaks which may have led to some points for the home team if it wasn’t for the great defensive work of the 3s, especially Moore, Hughes, Mantle and Carr in the forwards and Conroy and Wilczek in the backs.
Strangely, Sunderland’s Fly Half did not seem to be interested in passing the ball at all during the first half and opted to kick every time he had the ball. This tactic, although often not effective led to confusion in the Gateshead back line and after a chip over to full back, Blacklock. Corey then decided to challenge himself whilst on his own try line and instead of kicking for touch to the touch line which was only 5 metres away went for the opposite one. Brave or stupid? I’ll let you all be the judge of that one but the outcome was a try for Sunderland and a bemused look on White and Leonard’s faces on the sideline. 5-5.
Gateshead reacted to this with a score of their own, following some strong runs in the backs by Scrum Half Reah, Fly Half Holmes, Centre’s Conroy and Wilczek and through the hands of Winger Seager- Rooke. This lead to a penalty close to the Sunderland try line and current top try scorer Carr (apparently) was there to run it over the line to give Gateshead the lead at half time. Another brilliant worked team try which was started by the backs and finished off through some strong forward play. Before I move onto the Second half, I have been reminded to mention Holmes’ (me) stupidity at the end of the half when after he was passed a ball from
the back of a scrum close to his own try line, instead of a simple pass or even just taking it into contact, he decided to try pass it over his head about 30 metres to Blacklock. Even with his amazing skill set and ability (and good looks), this pass flew over Blacklock’s head and very nearly lead to a Sunderland try. Apologies.
Gateshead, with their ears ringing from Captain Carr’s half time team talk of “Do as I say and not as I do”, started very brightly and following to pressure from the forwards, lead to a penalty 10 metres away from the Sunderland try line. Reah took a quick tap and played to across the line to Holmes who popped it to Wilczek who crashed over the line to make it 5-15. Converted by Kell. 5- 17. Gateshead now looked to be in their stride and a victory on the road was looking inevitable. Unfortunately the game was cut short when Sunderland’s second row make a great run into the Gateshead half but was soon on the floor in agony. It looked like a very bad injury and following a discussion with the two captains and the charismatic referee it was decided that the game was to be abandoned.
Final Score Sunderland 7- Gateshead 20.
It was a shame the game has to end in this way and we all wish the lad who sustained this awful injury all the best and a speedy recovery. The performance was the best of the season so far for the 3s against a strong Sunderland team. So much to take away and build on for next week against Gosforth 2s at home.
Man of the match was awarded to Wilczek in the backs and Mantle in the forwards.
Onwards and upwards