1st XV - Report
Novo's 17 Sunderland 41
Sunderland got off to the best possible start in 2012 with a seven try demolition of Novocastrians giving them a full five points.
Despite making their way patiently into the Novo's 22 Sunderland then conceded a penalty and the home side were able to clear with the help of the wind to put Sunderland under pressure. From this pressure Novo's were able to open the scoring with a well worked backs move.
Sunderland bounced back to level the scores shortly after. Good work from the Sunderland pack opened up space down the right wing for Sunderlands backs to exploit and Greg Littlewood and Joe Arrowsmith fed the ball out wide to Sam Jordan who finished off a great move diving over in the the corner.
Sunderland then took the lead mid way through the first half. With a penalty in front of the posts captain martin watt opted for the scrum but a slip in the front row meant that Sunderland had to move the ball and Novo's were able to pinch the ball and clear their lines. With the danger seemingly over Novo's defence went to sleep and the ball was run back and passed through a number of Sunderland hands before Greg Littlewood beat the last defender to score in the corner.
Novo's weren't downhearted by going behind and came back strongly. A lineout 5m out was stopped by Sunderland but they failed to defend the fringes allowing the Novo's 7 to pick and drive through the middle of the ruck and score what was ultimately a soft try from Sunderlands point of view. A great conversion from out wide gave Novo's a 12-10 lead.
Sunderland again bounced back though and pressured the Novo's line through their totally dominant pack. The Sunderland pressure told when Novo's conceded a penalty five metres out. A quick tap from second row Peter Carter caught the Novo's defence knapping and he fed Tom Townend who powered over to score the final points of the first half.
Despite dominating a large majority of the half Sunderland turned round with a slender lead of 15 points to 12 but considering they were playing into a strong wind they were happy with their first half display.
In the second half Sunderland got off to a great start with a try from a well worked lineout move. Taking advantage of the wind Greg Littlewood kicked a penalty deep into the Novo's 22. Ross Finch took the lineout and Pete Harrison was the beneficiary of a tremendous drive from the Sunderland pack as he grounded the ball for the first of his two tries and secure a bonus point for Sunderland.
Ross Finch then extended the Sunderland lead with another lineout catch and drive before Novo's threatened a comeback with a try of their own. Greg Littlewood added the conversion.
From this point though Sunderland were never really in any danger of giving up their lead and Pete Harrison confirmed that with his second try of the day. A barnstorming run by Richard Arrowsmith took Sunderland to within inches of the line and Pete Harrison had the simplest of tasks to dot the ball down for the try. Littlewood again added the extra two points.
Sam Jordan finished things off on a high for Sunderland. Some great handling and recycling saw Sunderland go through a number of phases before the ball was spun out to the right wing for Jordan to cross for his second try of the day.
The seconds and thirds both faced opposition from Novo's but neither side could emulate the victory of the first team. The second team narrowly lost 27 - 21 with their points coming through a try for Andy Mackie and two for Terry Haley while the thirds lost out by 30 points to 10. Wallace and Hogg were the Sunderland points scorers.