IN difficult conditions due to Storm Dennis’s imminent arrival, Guisborough entertained table-topping Sunderland at Belmangate.

The hosts kicked off playing against the elements, and immediately set the tone of the game with some crunching tackles, chiefly by James Clark and Owen Edwards.

Play remained in the visitors’ half as defensive pressure by Guisborough caused another handling error on the ten metre line.

From the resulting scrum Clark charged through the midfield and into the opposition 22. Mark Ferguson sprinted along the left touchline and passed to Phil Shields, but the full-back was held short of the try-line.

However, a penalty had already been awarded to the home team. Quickly taken, the forwards surged forward, before Rob Leggott broke through tackles to touch down.

Sunderland, stung by Guisborough’s blistering start, took play into the opposition half but were met by a solid defence which was in no mood to buckle. Winning back possession, Guisborough broke out of their 22. Jack Robinson ran through the midfield and kicked ahead.

Ferguson collected and headed towards the line but was brought down by a superb tackle a metre or so short. After a spell of play inside the away team half, Sunderland kicked clear from a penalty and took play to 20 metres from the Guisborough try-line.

Winning the line-out, they attempted to set up an attacking platform, but a great clear-out by Edwards won back possession for his team.

A scrum was awarded to the Priorymen and an attack was launched. Joe Whyman kicked over the Sunderland backline and towards the left wing, where Ferguson collected the ball on the bounce.

Accelerating from his own half, he got within metres of scoring before another tremendous try-saving tackle from the Sunderland left winger saved his team. Under severe pressure Sunderland kicked to touch, but still remained in their own half.

Guisborough won the line-out and a catch and drive took their team forward. Oli Muir broke from the base of the maul and into the final third of the pitch. Recycled ball moved right, where Ferguson joined the centres. He linked up with Alex Ruff and Leggott, before Whyman popped a pass to Shields who dived over to score.

The full-back thought he had scored shortly after. Ferguson broke through tackles and brought McDougall and Leggott into play. Heading towards the posts, Shields ran onto a pass and touched down, but the referee deemed it forward and the score was chalked off.

It was not long though before the mercurial Shields bagged his second try of the game. Breaking from his team’s 22 metre area, Robinson powered through the midfield to half-way. Here Shields received a switch-pass and had too much pace for the covering defence, scoring under the posts. Every time Sunderland broke into opposition territory, they were met with a watertight defensive wall which ultimately caused mistakes, allowing Guisborough to clear any danger.

Frustration gave Guisborough a brace of penalties and took play into the Sunderland 22. A catch and drive at the line-out allowed Mitch Cannon to charge towards the whitewash, but he lost possession as he attempted to ground the ball. This brought the first half to a conclusion with the scoreboard reading: Guisborough 17 points, Sunderland 0 points.

The first attacking phase of the second half saw Sunderland intercept a pass and head into the Guisborough 22, but a knock-on stopped any danger. From the scrum Robinson once again broke through the central area. He delivered an inside pass to Ferguson on the half-way.

Charging towards the corner, a last-ditch tackle failed to stop him this time as he touched down. The ubiquitous Robinson was setting up another attacking move soon after. A clearance kick was collected by Guisborough’s captain and a ruck set up on half-way. Shields broke at the side of the breakdown and up to the 22.

Support was on hand from McDougall who continued momentum. Forwards’ charges towards the line were halted, before Edwards crashed over for a well-deserved score.

There was no stopping Guisborough, who were in free flow. Whyman made his way into Sunderland territory, where he linked up with his supporting forwards. The ball was shipped left to Clark and a beautifully weighted kick forward was caught by Shields who scored in the left-hand corner. Keeping the scoreboard ticking over, Whyman slotted a penalty over from the 22 metre line.

Sunderland continued attempting to break through the Guisborough defence and a powerful run by their left winger took play into the home team 22. However, as they moved play right, the referee spotted some illegal running lines and Guisborough cleared.

From the resulting line-out in their own half, Guisborough once again broke through the midfield. Ruff and Whyman put their team into opposition territory and then Lewis Robson sprinted into the Sunderland 22.

Halted by a high tackle, play continued as Michael Henderson drove forward; ball was then moved swiftly to the left wing where Robinson passed to Cannon.

There was no stopping the prop forward as he crashed through tackles to score. Sunderland were punished further as a player was shown a yellow card for the tackle on Robson.

With a player less, the Sunderland team regrouped and enjoyed a period of play inside the Guisborough 22. A catch and drive from a line-out took play up to the home team try-line, but there was no way through.

After a brace of penalties conceded, the referee warned Guisborough regarding the frequency of infringements. This had the desired effect as discipline was restored and a crooked line-out throw allowed the home team to kick clear. Another line-out was deemed ‘not straight’, and Guisborough elected to take a scrum on the Sunderland 22. Winning the set-piece, Whyman and Robinson once again made inroads. It was no surprise that Shields was in support and he rode tackles to score his fourth try of the afternoon, touching down under the posts.

The match finished Guisborough 51, Sunderland 0.