Widnes were just five minutes away from pulling off a sensational victory against red hot promotion favourites Sale on their own patch.

The decision of the referee to send a Widnes player to the sin bin was crucial as Sale, who were always behind, were able to get their noses in front to secure a win which they didn’t really deserve.

The visitors were by far the more enterprising throughout and began in fine style as both Paul O’Connor and Dave Welsh scored tries, and Kevin Leadbetter added a penalty and a conversion to see them lead 17 – 15 at half time.

When Paul O’Connor scored his second try and Welsh added the extras as well as penalty a real upset looked to be on the cards. But Sale – who were reliant on their big pack – chipped away with a converted score before getting over for the winning try when Widnes were down to fourteen men.