Paul Gustard slammed his side for throwing away the game as Harlequins were defeated 28-17 away to fifth place Sale Sharks in the Gallagher Premiership on Friday night.

The result means that Harlequins have now lost three in a row after winning the previous five.

Quins took the lead through Mike Brown's third-minute try, it was his 90th for the club, making him the side’s all-time record try scorer.

Sale hit back with a series of penalties from AJ MacGinty but Jack Clifford went over in the 26th minute to restore Quins' lead. They could not hold the advantage though. Byron McGuigan scored a try on the stroke of half-time and MacGinty then kicked three more penalties to bring his total seven penalties and a conversion to give Sale the win.

Gustard said: “It’s a game we were good enough to win and it’s a game we chose to lose and we gave it to Sale a little bit.

“There was one team that had a bit more attacking intent and we started really well and didn’t quite get that second try with Danny (Care) being held up.

“Thirteen penalties is too many against a team that only conceded four and it’s frustrating.”

Gustard was keen to point out that there were positives from the game, particularly with the attacking intent in the first half but was left frustrated that they could not maintain it throughout the game.  

He added: “The counter-attack was exceptional, from turnover we looked really good in those first 20 minutes and we didn’t quite replicate that in the second half.

“We missed some opportunities, we were ill-disciplined on the ball, we had two tight five forwards playing 30-yard passes which we haven’t practised too much of.

“I’m unbelievably frustrated, really disappointed for the boys because I know they’ve put a lot of effort into this. We’ve worked really hard this week as a coaching group and we came here full of confidence.”

Quins stay in fourth and still hold a five-point advantage over Sale and Bath in the race for the final semi-final place and Gustard remains confident his side can maintain that position.

He said: “The dressing room is hurting but our destiny is still in our own hands. We’re the team with the points on the board and everybody is still chasing us to get into the top four.”