Sunderland 26-25 North Shields 1st XV
Shields left kicking themselves...
Shields left kicking themselves after missed opportunities at goal are the difference between the two sides.
North Shields made the trip through the Tyne Tunnel to take on Sunderland keen to build on from last week’s high scoring win over Darlington. Sunderland, reeling from their defeat to Hartlepool on the opening day were always going to be tough opposition with a point to prove. With their Ashbrooke ground out of action due to the last game of the cricket season both teams made the journey to their alternative pitch at Stannington Grove.
Shields got set to receive the kick off but started in the worst possible way when the kick was spilled and the home side regained possession. Further frustration followed when this was followed up by conceding a penalty and Sunderland kicked to the corner and following a catch & drive their skipper Joe Arrowsmith found his way over the line to score out wide. Fullback Leon Ryan lost his footing and slipped as he struck the conversion but his kick sailed between the posts and Shields found themselves 7 points down with only a couple of minutes played.
Jack Rendles restart went long into the Sunderland half but their young scrum half cleared his lines with a massive box kick which pinned Shields back into their own 22. Shields attempted to run the ball from deep in their own half but came up with an error which gifted possession back to Sunderland. Fly half Mark Edmundson then spotted space in behind the Shields defensive line and kicked through but Kai Downey read the danger and got to the ball first ahead of the chasing players sliding on the loose ball and carrying it into the in-goal area, Sunderland getting the attacking scrum but giving Shields a chance to hold them out. The set piece had been going very much the way of the home side but from the resulting scrum Sunderland knocked on and Shields were able to clear their lines.
Shields then got a penalty which Jack Rendles kicked deep into the opposition 22, Kai Downey again finding Dave Anderson to provide some quick off the top ball and after strong carries from Ricki Hasnip, Ben Dalton and Aaron Wilcocks, Scott Murphy threw a dummy and crossed out wide to reduce the deficit. Jack Rendles’ conversion attempt sailing wide to miss an opportunity to level the scores.
The remainder of the half was almost all Sunderland’s way after that, posting a couple of tries through their winger Fletcher Jackson and centre Dean Edmundson who stepped inside and ducked under a couple of tackle attempts to cross under the posts, Ryan adding a conversion to put them 19-5 ahead. Shields managed a lifeline just on the stroke of half time when Lewis Boyle managed to find some space to cross in the corner. Jack Rendles was injured in the build up to this and was replaced by his older brother Scott who’s first action in the game was a touchline conversion attempt that fell short. Sunderland led 19-10 at the break.
Head Coach Keith Christie rallied his troops at half time and challenged them to come up with a positive response to some of the problems they had brought upon themselves with individual errors and decision making and he got that almost immediately. Mark Walker’s box kick found some space and Ricki Hasnip kicked ahead, and it looked like Shields were going to win the race to the loose ball but the Wearsiders were able to gather the ball and clear the danger.
Christie made a couple of changes in the back row with Richard Carr and Will Ogle replacing Scott Murphy and Andrew Leitch but the Wearsiders furthered their lead soon after. The home fly half Edmundson was pinning Shields back with some great tactical kicking and Shields got the lineout 10m from their own line. The Sunderland lock Luke Bryan-Victory had proven to be a thorn in the side of the Blue & Whites and he was able to steal the ball and before the Shields back line could adjust to defend the home fly half hit a short line and went over under the posts with the simple conversion added.
North Shields seemed to come to life after this and with a new move from the training ground proving effective Kai Downey made a break through midfield and as he was hauled down Shields recycled quick ball and moved it wide for Chris McCabe to cross in the corner but the home touch judge raised his flag to say he was in touch before it was grounded. Shields, noticeably buoyed by this chance applied more pressure on the Sunderland line and after a neat kick through, Matty Dockey stripped the ball from the Sunderland fullback and flicked a Sonny Bill-esque offload to Lewis Boyle who made no mistake and found hid way to the line. Scott Rendles was unable to add the conversion from out wide but Shields had found an extra gear and kicked on from this.
Almost immediately from the kick off Shields were at it again, Kai Downey with a neat show and go and broke 40m from deep within Shields territory, the Sunderland second rower chased back to make the tackle but was given his marching orders by the ref for a dangerous tackle earning himself 10 mins in the sin bin. Shields were keen to keep the momentum going and tapped the ball, Ben Dalton carried well, recycled ball was fed to Downey who got the ball free in the tackle to offload to McCabe who made sure this time and dived over to score, again the kick being missed.
Again, Shields came back with a renewed energy and enthusiasm, the ball was moved to the left, once again Downey made a line break and Shields were flying, unfortunately they were judged to have passed the ball forward, halting a great try scoring opportunity. Sunderland got a penalty and kicked to touch but Lewis Boyle kept the ball in, taking it high over his head like a goalkeeper would and set off infield, Shields got close to the Sunderland line but lost the ball in possession just before the line.
Sunderland had the scrum and under some pressure from the Blue & White forwards who now had the bit between their teeth, as they tried to clear their lines the kick was charged down! Scott Rendles was quickest to react and dived on the loose ball, Shields behind by a point with a kick to come. Unfortunately, the fairy-tale ending wasn’t going to be just yet as Rendles pushed his kick wide and Shields got set to receive the kick with a minute and a half on the clock, knowing that they would have to go the full length of the field to steal the points.
Sunderland kicked long and Shields secured the ball, started to make ground but unfortunately pushed it one pass too many and come up with a handling error. All Sunderland had to do was lock out their scrum and their scrum half kicked the ball into touch bringing the full-time whistle.
Shields made the trip home bitterly disappointed at what could have been, knowing that they were the masters of their own fate, too many errors and missed tackles meaning that they lost a game that was theirs for the taking. Strong performances from Boyle, McCabe and Dalton but man of the match went to Kai Downey who was everywhere and involved in everything that Shields did well.
The boys in Blue & White need to regroup this week, lick their wounds and prepare for the visit of Gosforth next week who despite being relegated from DN1 have started their season well with 2 wins in the league and a cup win against higher opposition.
Sunderland Squad: Kieron Hanlon, Peter Harrison, Ryan Buckley, Luke Bryan-Victory, Andrew Wordsworth, Craig Elstob. Joseph Arrowsmith, Jack Hope, Ben Hutchinson, Mark Edmundson, Craig Melk, Christopher Little, Dean Edmundson, Fletcher Jackson, Leon Ryan
Replacements: Richard Arrowsmith, Grant Edmundson, Luke Robinson
North Shields Squad: Ben Lemmons, Kai Downey, Tony Jordan, Dean Harrison, Dave Anderson, Scott Murphy, Ben Dalton, Andrew Leith, Mark Walker, Jack Rendles, Matty Dockey, Ricki Hasnip, Aaron Wilcocks, Lewis Boyle, Chris McCabe
Replacements: Richard Carr, Will Ogle, Scott Rendles