Rockcliff give as good as they get in defeat to Sunderland

Despite the 25-3 scoreline, Rockcliff give as good as they got at a sunny Ashbrooke against home side Sunderland.

Still missing key players, Rockcliff came up against a Sunderland team determined to rectify last week’s defeat at Barnard Castle, and straight from the kick-off they played a high intensity game right into Rockcliffs faces.

Sunderland used the early ball, working it to a very tricky and nimble No. 7 who side-stepped four players, and after two phases the ball was released to their speedy winger who crashed over for a try.

Rockcliff came back and for the next quarter put pressure on the home pack, Webster knocking over a penalty to reduce the arrears to two points at 5-3, but try as they might the Red and Golds could not cross the whitewash as there was some excellent defending from the home side.

With increasing pressure on the Rockcliff pack, and after a number of infringements, Leon Smart took a team yellow after four quick penalties were conceded.

With the extra space and man advantage, Sunderland ran in another unconverted try and a penalty to lead 13-3 at half-time.

Loren Nardini rang the changes with Webster moving to No. 10 to allow Josh Donnelly to shuffle up to centre, and as a result Rockcliff had a long period of pressure in the Sunderland half, but again found difficulty in converting the pressure to points.

With the referee awarding a penalty try to Sunderland, Rockcliff came back at the hosts. Sunderland continued to infringe and eventually the home lock took a team yellow card after a series of penalties, but they still managed to score a try to seal the game.

Liam Bowman was Rockcliff’s man of the match.

Next week Rockcliff face a local derby with North Shields, with the match doubling up as a league fixture and the Malcolm Flockton Memorial match.