1st XV - Report
Sunderland 24 - Novos 24
Sunderlands first run out of the season on Ashbrooke ended in more disappointed despite picking up three points in a 24 all draw with Novocastrians.
Sunderland once again were slow to get going and Novo's opened the scoring with a move which started deep in their own half and a mixture of good handling and ineffective Sunderland tackling saw them score under the posts and take an early 7-0 lead.
Sunderland responded almost immediately when following a prolonged period of possession in the Novo's half Sundeland found themselves 10 metres out. With the Novo's defence flooding left Matt Francis spun a pass wide to Peter Carter on the blindside who crossed the line untouched. The missed conversion was to prove costly in the final shake up.
Sunderland looked to be getting the upper hand, dominating possession and territory and pushing for a second score. As the ball was spun out wide to the left the Novo's centre shot out of the line to intercept the pass and and race 70m to score under the posts. The conversion made the score 14-5 at half time.
Sunderland would have hoped for a better start to the second half than they did to the first but more sloppy play let Novo's in for another early score. Trying to force the offload on the half way line the ball was spilled gifting Novo's possession and allowing their winger to race away to add to their lead. The conversion made the score 21-5 and Sunderland were in real danger of losing touch and slipping to their fourth straight defeat.
Andy Black brought Sunderland back into the game when he powered over from close range following a well driven lineout but another missed kick meant Sunderland still trailed by 21 points to 10 and needing two converted scores to win. Sunderlands cause wasn't helped when Novo's added a penalty to make the score 24-10.
Sunderland then put together the move of the game when Greg Littlewood caught a Novo's kick 5m out from his own line. Seeing space in front of him Littlewood took off showing a great turn of pace and nimble footwork as he broke toward the half way line before feeding dan abraham. Abraham took the ball over half way and passed back inside to Littlewood as the covering full back chased him down. Littlewood then fed Bellon who touched down under the posts. Bellon took over the kicking duties and duly added the extra points.
Bellon then got Sunderland on level terms when he was on the end of another Sunderland move in the backs and crossing for a second try. The conversion levelled the score at 24-24 and gave Sunderland a try scoring bonus point.
Sunderland seconds were dissapointed with their performance against Novo's seconds as they lost out 31-7. Chris Geehan, forced to play as a makeshift fly half scored Sunderlands try.
Sunderland thirds also played Novo's opposition and were comfortable winners in a high scoring match. Tries from Swann (3), Wright (2), Wallace, Simpson, Watt and Grainger gave them a 60 points to 41 victory. Grainger added four conversions.