The home side has Newcastle on their heels at the Stadium of Light, with Steven Fletcher climbing high and nodding home a cross in just the fifth minute for a 1-0 lead.
American Jozy Altidore, starting alongside Fletcher for just the second time this season, won a corner with a play of strength. The corner then developed into a cross opportunity for Adam Johnson who delivered to the back post.
Fletcher then outjumped young defender Paul Dummett for the header, which he buried.
The match has been incredibly physical as expected, and as rain began to fall midway through the period, it only made for a chippier match still.
There have been many midfield battles so far, but the dual-striker system employed by Gus Poyet has pinned back Newcastle’s dynamic midfield causing their creativity up front to diminish.
Can Poyet hold on to get his first win as Sunderland manager? Tune in to the Tyne-Wear Derby on NBCSN, as the second half gets under way.