A CROWD of almost 1,700 saw the outcome of the National Three North league title when Sale and Sandal clashed in the final league match of the season as the Heywood Road club won 31-22 .

The opening phases were evenly balanced, but on seventeen minutes the momentum changed in favour of the Yorkshire side.

A powerful run from Sandal’s Dave Martin saw him score the opening try and two minutes later winger Simon Frewin snapped up a loose Sale pass to race in unopposed with Mark Pease kicking the conversion.

Liam McGovern secured a penalty for Sale minutes later but worse was to follow when Sandal extended their advantage with a Rob Norbury try to complete the first half scoring with the visitors 17-3 ahead.

The Yorkshiremen added to their tally nine minutes into the second period when winger Alex Orr raced in for their fourth try and a 22-3 lead much to the delight of their supporters, and the majority of the spectators had little doubt that the title was headed over the Pennines.

Sale hit back with a fine break from Sam Stelmaszek took play into the Sandal 22 and good handling eventually put McGovern over for a try in the corner but his conversion rebounded off the crossbar.

Sale maintained the pressure and with Sandal conceding two penalties in eight minutes the latter leading to a yellow card, the home side were just eight points behind.

The hosts worked well to keep pressing the visitors under pressure but with only ten minutes left two scores were still required. Stelmaszek put in a neat kick and chase towards the goal line but a Sandal player impeded the Sale scrum half and the referee immediately awarded a penalty try. McGovern added the conversion and Sale were just a point behind.

With just minutes remaining Sandal’s Norbury was yellow carded for a high tackle on Connolly and McGovern kicked a penalty to put Sale in front for the first time in the match.

Boosted by the noisy home support, Connolly and Stelmaszek combined well in the final minute for the latter to cross for a try which McGovern converted, in what was an amazing comeback and a superb team performance.

Shortly afterwards Sale captain Liam McGovern received the league trophy and they were promoted to National North Two.