WIDNES were just a few minutes away from pulling off a sensational victory against red hot promotion favourites Sale on their own patch at Heywood Road.
But, in the end, it was a decision by the referee to send a Widnes player to the sin bin in the last few minutes which would prove crucial, allowing Sale to use their numerical advantage to finally get their noses in front and secure a 29-25 win.
For Widnes, a losing bonus point was scant reward for their efforts against a side that are looking to reach the National Leagues in double quick time.
The visitors were by far the more enterprising throughout the game and they showed that they were no lovers of reputation as they went onto the offensive right from the off.
Paul O’Connor opened the scoring and Kevin Leadbetter added the extras, before a Leadbetter penalty made it 10-0.
Sale got on the board with a penalty from Andy Rowley after 12 minutes but Widnes centre Dave Welsh raced 60 metres to score under the posts, with Leadbetter moving the score on to 17-3.
The hosts came back through Waddy’s try and Rowley’s kick, before Harrison barged his way over to make it 17-15 at the break.
O’Connor scored early in the second half and Sale were often left running down a blind alley. Welsh booted over a difficult penalty to make it 25-15.
But Waddy crashed over from close range and Rowlands converted to reduced the deficit to just three points.
Then, with an extra man, Sale got number eight Keep over the line for the winning try, converted by Rowley.
Widnes travel to face Anselmians at Malone Field in round four of North One West on Saturday.
Widnes coach Lee McDermott said: “We have had some tough encounters against Anselmians in recent years, and we are expecting nothing less this weekend.”
The seconds mounted a terrific comeback to overcome Waterloo 30-23 and secure their first win in Division One. Antony Leadbetter led the way with two tries. The thirds went down against a strong Waterloo outfit.