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Home > News > Northern U15 45 - Sunderland U15 7
Your News Northern U15 45 - Sunderland U15 7

Weather: Cold, but not frosty. Pitch firm

Venue: West Lawn, Ashbrooke, Sunderland

Final score: 45-7


Dom Agnew…………………………..1

Hugh Mongan………………………..1

Daniel Murtagh..……………………..1

Ollie Walker…………………………..2

Matthew Lowes……..……………….1

Jake Adams………………………….1


Patrick Fisher Naylor……………….5

Man of the Match: Hugh Mongan

Derby Day blues herald in New Year for Sunderland battlers

A great squad turn out of 22 players by Northern U15’s at their first fixture of 2009 away at Sunderland RFC was impressive indeed, but to see the touchline at an away friendly so well populated by parents and friends was without doubt a massive fillip for the lads.

Naturally, any sporting contest of whatever flavour between the two rival cities brings added spice to the occasion.

On closer inspection, our teenage tourists looked as if they had overindulged and slept little over the festive period. A cold morning in Sunderland on a very firm Ashbrooke pitch would provide the perfect Christmas detox.

Sunderland looked tough, physical and highly motivated to send us scurrying back to Tyneside like forlorn toddlers on Santa’s naughty list. Could Northern extend their season’s unbeaten run into 2009?

Northern kicked off and exerted early pressure. Within minutes Jake Adams broke through and looked to have opened the Northern account, but was adjudged to have knocked on in scoring the try. Sunderland cleared their lines, but soon were under the cosh again. Northern won a line out down the left well into their opponent’s half following a penetrating kick by Patrick Fisher Naylor. Omnipresent Hugh Mongan powered his way towards the line and then offloaded neatly to Dom Agnew, who forced his way across the whitewash and planted the ball one handedly just to the right of the posts to give the visitors a 5-0 lead. Conversion missed.

Unluckily, Dom Agnew, still nursing the sweet memory of his first try of the season, was soon to leave the field of play when he sustained a heavy blow to a knee after 12 minutes. Owen Hollins came on to replace him in the second row.

Sunderland, predictably, forced their way back into the game with some fierce pressure. They looked to have scored a legitimate try, but it was disallowed for not grounding the ball. However, their nostrils twitching with the stench of the Northern tryline close by, they won a penalty, which they skilfully moved left and with the overlap went over to equal the scores. They converted well and took the lead 7-5.

Northern, their fingers still more familiar with the comforting contours of a PS3 controller than catching a rugby ball, continued to look rusty and indecisive, but gradually they started to acclimatise. An excellent ranging kick from Patrick Fisher Naylor gave the home team a line out on their own 22 down the Northern left.

Sunderland won the ball from their own throw in, but their tight wearing half back pairing, resembling a pair of pantomime principal boys, succeeded in producing slow, misdirected ball. Startled by touchline shouts of “he’s behind you!” their No 10 was bagged and scragged by the onrushing Harry Thorpe. Harry, no respecter of any flyhalf’s sartorial elegance, ripped the ball unceremoniously and fed it eagerly into the oncoming arms of Ollie Walker, who reached the line with crashing momentum. An efficient conversion by Patrick Fisher Naylor and Northern had regained the lead 12-7 after 22 minutes.

The remainder of the half was an attritional affair, but with Northern forcing the pace down Sunderland’s right flank, an injudicious punch by a home forward earned him a yellow card and a red faced trudge to the touchline with 3 minutes remaining.

With a man advantage at the beginning of the second period, Northern upped a gear and the ubiquitous Jake Adams soon set off down the left on his first of many second half forays into Sunderland territory. His endeavour produced a Northern line out 5 metres out, and Matthew Lowes needed no second invitation to punch a low, precise hole at the base of the ruck to score in the left hand corner after 3 minutes. A fabulous conversion by Patrick Fisher Naylor provided the icing on the Northern Christmas cake and extended their lead to 19-7.

Matthew Haigh replaced a getting fitter by the match James Carrick, and Charlie Young took over at scrum half from Andrew Doig.

Northern then exploited the final seconds of the sin binned player’s extradition. Ollie Walker kicked cleverly from defence after Sunderland pressure towards the tall home full back, who had looked vulnerable all game. Once again, Jake Adams was up with play with Daniel Murtagh in hot pursuit. The full back was overwhelmed by the Northern duo, like hunt beagles pouncing on a helpless vixen. The ball was kicked forwards and Daniel just won the foot race to score. No conversion and the lead now 24-7.

Sunderland back to a full contingent could not prevent the next Northern try just two minutes later. Another superb tactical kick by Patrick Fisher Naylor forced the Sunderland defence to turn in lung bursting pursuit, but they were no match for Hugh Mongan, who added to his impressive season’s tally. PFN duly finished the job with a conversion taking the score to 31-7.

With 15 minutes to go, Graham Dutton joined the second row and Alex Foster replaced Chris Smith at prop. With his first touch of the ball straight from the restart Alex Foster caught the Sunderland kick and quickly spread the ball down the line. Ghosting in once again was Jake Adams, whose idiosyncratic style of running belies his turn of speed, and even the dyed blonde and tonsured locks of the Sunderland midfield powerhouse was unable to halt Jake’s progress to the line. A superb and well deserved try was rewarded by another PFN conversion. 38-7.

Sunderland are known to be made of sterner stuff, and back they came with a vengeance. Soon after Hugh Mongan incurred the referee’s wrath with an adjudged bad tackle and his sin binning would test Northern resolve for the remaining 10 minutes or so.

The home team piled on the pressure, desperate to assuage injured pride. They headed doggedly towards the Northern line in a sustained period of play, but just as a score seemed inevitable up popped Jake “in a box” Adams to intercept brilliantly and then kick forward over a visibly tiring Sunderland defence. A breakaway score looked certain, but the final pass from Harry Thorpe to Ollie Walker was fractionally forward.

Back came Sunderland again, but Hugh Mongan’s temporary incarceration seemed to have girded Northern loins. Despite the admirable and aggressive efforts of the Ashbrooke battlers, Northern’s tacklers held firm with Adam Walker and Alex Foster especially resilient in the impact area.

Hugh Mongan returned to the fray, and with 3 minutes left on the clock, Ben Brown initiated a move, which saw Matthew Haigh slip a well timed pass to Ollie Walker. Ollie Walker feigned to go left, but instead he snaked inside and scored unopposed under the sticks. Patrick Fisher Naylor delivered the coup de grace conversion and Northern headed to “No Sides” leading 45-7.

Sunderland again regrouped, and almost scored a superb individual try after a mazy run through the middle had Hugh Mongan not brought down the opposition flier just short of the tryline. On came Michael Dixon to give him a taste of first team experience, and then the physical game came to a welcome end for both sides.

A good game with all the Northern squad getting a run out of some description. Played in good spirit with a healthy contingent of supporters on both sides.

Vic Foster

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