EMMA Onien stole the show on the final day of the season as Sunderland confirmed a third-place finish in the England Hockey League’s Conference North.
Belper were put to the sword at Meadowfield Sports Centre, with Onien’s second-half hat-trick ensuring victory after a hard-fought first 40 minutes.
Sunderland fell behind to Charlotte Hobbs’ fifth-minute penalty corner, but the hosts were back in front by the break, with Julie Hope and Joss Plummer, converting a penalty corner, doing the damage.
Hobbs struck again early in the second half to haul Belper level, but Sunderland regained the initiative and finished good winners, with Onien on target in the 43rd and 64th minutes before completing a memorable hat-trick a minute from time.
Gemma Whitworth’s side won 12 of their 18 league game, finishing four points clear of fourth-top Wakefield Bradford, while Sutton Coldfield edged to the title by a point from Loughborough Students despite losing one more match.
Durham University ended fifth after finding Sutton Coldfield in no mood to blow their title chance, with the students outgunned 6-1 as the Midlands club guaranteed a play-off place. Harriet Moore gave Durham hope with a 24th-minute strike, but Sutton were already three goals up, and they added three more following the consolation goal.