SALE FC held off a second-half comeback by Old Elthamians to win a gripping National League One clash at Heywood Road 26-15.

Tries from James Williams and Dan Birchall, combined with the imperious boot of Chris Johnson, ensured the hosts led throughout.

Sale, who had lost their two opening games of the season, started brightly and took the lead with a try from debutant Williams after 13 minutes, Johnson confidently adding the extras.

The away side struck back when Bryan Hotston finished a simple move out wide on 26 minutes but seconds later Johnson extended Sale’s lead with his first penalty to make it 10-5, which is how things remained until half time.

After the restart, the veteran goal-kicker added two more penalties, increasing the hosts’ advantage to 11 points before the visitors got their second try after 56 minutes.

Old Elthamians turned the ball over deep in Sale territory and replacement Oliver Caxton scuttled over the whitewash.

Tom White added the conversion before slotting a penalty over to bring the away side within just a point at 16-15.

The Londoners then had the chance to take the lead for the first time from the tee but White’s effort flew wide.

Sale secured the win, as Johnson first hammered a penalty between the sticks before converting prop Birchall’s late score.