Sunderland Squash’s Northumbria Premier League campaign got off to the worst possible start, a 5-0 defeat at Northern.
After promising wins for the 4ths and 2nds earlier in the week, all eyes were turned to the 1sts to continue the momentum.
And after their narrow escape last year, Sunderland were desperate to get their second season in the top flight off to a flying start.
Despite strong pre-season preparations, and the signing of Richard Hodges from Eldon Square, they struggled against a strong Northern outfit.
The hosts got off to a flying start as their own new signing, Rob Pearce from Alnwick, beat Simon Cliffe 3-0.
And Northern soon moved to the verge of victory as Alex Robertson also claimed a 3-0 win, despite a typically attritional display from Hodges.
The Ashbrooke side’s fate was sealed as former Norther junior Alex Storey fell to a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Lewis Wake.
Peter McCloud came the closest to a consolation win for the visitors, but he was edged out 3-2 by up-and-coming youngster Alex Goad.
And the Gosforth-based side confirmed their whitewash in the battle of the captains, Liam Gutcher overcoming a dogged Paul Dodsworth 3-0.
The points were split 20-3 in favour of Northern, and Sunderland will need to bounce back quickly next week, as they welcome Westoe.