Maroons stung by last-gasp blow in Sunderland encounter

John Hatton puts a tackle in for the Maroons during their defeat at Sunderland
John Hatton puts a tackle in for the Maroons during their defeat at Sunderland

Whitby RUFC travelled to Sunderland in Durham/Northumberland Two looking to continue the good form on the road that has seen them unbeaten away this calendar year, but they eventually fell to a 30-25 loss.

Then Maroons welcomed back Dave Bland and named a strong squad for what was always going to be a tight encounter.

The game started in frantic fashion, with both teams playing quick expansive rugby and trying to gain the early advantage.

It was from the first attacking position that the visitors had conjured, that the first try of the afternoon came.

From a five-metre attacking scrum that saw a well-rehearsed back-row move come off, with flanker Dave Bland touching the ball down.

It was Sunderland who were next to score with two penalties in quick succession to take the lead.

However, Whitby soon hit back when lock Luke Brown went over to put the ball down under the posts to allow Stu Gregson convert for a seven-point score.

The hosts soon hit back after a catch-and-drive saw them force their way over from close range for their first try of the afternoon.

With the interval approaching, after a fine move from the Whitby backs, it was Dave Bland who dummied and side-stepped his way to doubling his tally for the afternoon and making the half-time score 17-11 to Whitby.

The second half began with both teams spreading the ball out when the opportunity presented itself. Winger Guy Taylor was putting in a fine display of wide play along with Gordon Bland and Sam Webster, who really kept the Whitby backs ticking over.

However, the first score of the second stanza went to the hosts to give them the lead by a single point.

Whitby soon retook the lead after a neatly struck penalty from Gregson.

Sunderland’s pacy winger found a gap in the Whitby defence and went over in the corner as the game swung the other way.

Whitby soon regathered with Mitch Cannon and Jack Braithwaite carrying the ball well and forcing the Sunderland defence into mistakes.

It was from one such mistake that Gordon Bland went over in the corner to restore the advantage.

Jannie Jacobs was then yellow-carded for a deliberate knock-on which halted another Sunderland attack.

The hosts found themselves on the Whitby five-metre line with an attacking scrum from which they snatched victory from Whitby’s grasp with the last play of the game.

Coach Matt Webster said: “The only thing missing was game management, the effort and commitment was, as ever, excellent.

“We have two important games left to play which could see us finish as high as fourth.”

The man of the match was Jack Braithwaite.