Rockcliff kept up their outside chance of promotion from Durham and Northumberland Division 2 with a win at Sunderland, but they could not add the fourth try to gain the vital bonus point.
The home side were first on the score sheet, scoring their opening try after only five minutes.
This woke a lethargic Rockcliff up, and they responded with some scintillating running rugby as they ran in three unanswered tries from Chris Waddell, Kai Downey and Stu Thompson. Andrew Webster converted one try and added a penalty.
A late rally by Sunderland led to two tries which put the pressure on the Red and Golds, but the Rockcliff defence held on to close the game out, despite losing Sam Stirling to the sin bin.
On Saturday Rockcliff are in league action again, at home to Seaton Carew.