The Sunderland Spartans continued their poor start to the season after falling 24-16 in Hull to the Sharks.

In a tightly contested game, the Spartans were boosted by the return of QB Trevor Hill after his suspension, meaning that head coach Pete Nichol could return to the touchline and resume his coaching responsibilities.

However, QB Hill’s return to the field was not enough as a valiant effort from the men in orange fell just short as Hull Sharks were able to pick up their first win of the season.

The first quarter was a struggle for the Spartans, with countless offside penalties really hampering both their offensive and defensive drives. It was a Spartans offside penalty which gave the Sharks a key first down in Spartan territory and, as a result of a perfectly executed sweep move, the home side scored the first touchdown of the game, taking the score to 6-0 to end the first quarter after a missed field goal.

Fuelled by the negative result on the opening day of the season, the Spartans defence really upped their game in the second quarter, shutting down a Sharks trick play on 4th down to put the ball into the hands of QB Hill. It was then the offences turn to step up to the plate, with QB Hill throwing a beautiful deep ball into the hands of receiver Mark Daniel Laing, who managed to evade several tackles to carry the ball into the end zone. After a successful two-point conversion, the Spartans took an 8-6 point lead into the half-time break.

The Spartans continued their good form into the third quarter, with the special teams blocking a Sharks field goal to maintain their lead. However, despite their best efforts, the Sharks larger squad began to exploit the Spartans tiring defence, performing another excellent sweep play to run the ball into the end zone, making the score 12-8.

This tightly fought contest continued into the 4th quarter, with both teams scoring touchdowns, taking the score to 18-6. However, late into the game, the Sharks scored the decisive touchdown, using their sweep play which gave them so much success during the game which, after another missed field goal, gave them a 24-16 victory.

After the game, defensive line coach Sean Curtin felt that despite another defeat, there were so many positives to take from the game.

“We were so close today,” he said. “The improvements between the Glasgow game and this one were great.

“The only reason why they beat us, in the end, is because they have a bigger team than us. When they come to our house later in the season, we are going to stuff them.”

Head coach Nichol also emplored players to keep turning up to training sessions, injured or not.

“I know that people have work and university to organise football around but we have to keep getting as many of you as possible to training,” he said. “Even if your injured, you can come down and work on rehabilitating your injury with our coaches.

Last Tuesday, there weren’t enough players at training to even run a full scrimmage, which is not good enough. If we want to get better and beat teams like this, we need to keep training.”

Next week, the Spartans are on a bye before their next game at home against Northumbria Mustangs on November 26th.