Harlequins’ head of rugby Paul Gustard was left seething with his team’s display as they started the new year with a 48-10 mauling at the hands of Sale Sharks.

Defeat leaves Quins eighth in the Premiership table, as a dominant display from the home side saw them run in six tries at the AJ Bell Stadium.

After taking the lead through a Gabriel Ibitoye breakaway try five minutes in, the visitors then disintegrated as the half went on, with just a Marcus Smith penalty to show for the rest of their efforts.

Defeat in Manchester sees Quins on a run of just two wins from their last six domestic games, and Gustard knows it is crucial his side turn a corner soon.

"It was very poor, we weren't good enough. We got beaten up, Sale were much more physical than we were and got on top at the set-piece,” the 43-year-old said after the game.

"The only thing we can do is look at ourselves, regroup and address selection. We've got to find a way to win games.

"For all our possession we weren't able to manufacture a score. We didn't control the middle of the field very well and our discipline was poor."

Gustard will be concerned about his side’s vulnerability in Friday’s defeat, with Akker van der Merwe slicing through the defence to grab Sale’s first try ten minutes in.

Sam James then added another halfway through the first half as Sale were clinical on the counter, before his brother Luke dotted down with the try of the match.

The 20-year-old evaded no fewer than six Harlequins defenders as he slalomed his way to the line on the stroke of half-time, with Sale effectively out of sight with a 24-10 lead at the break.

Rob Webber, Chris Ashton and Rohan Janse Van Rensburg all touched down in the second half to add gloss to the victory, as the visitors had two players sent to the sin-bin.

And Gustard singled out Joe Marler for his ill-discipline, after the England international was given a yellow card for putting an unprovoked elbow in the face of Jean-Luc Du Preez.

"I'm sure Joe will look at himself, it's absolutely ridiculous," Gustard said.

"There's no need for that. There was plenty of off-the-ball stuff from Sale and we've got to rise above it, but Joe was the protagonist and there's just no place for that.

"It cost us an important player for ten minutes and put the team under pressure again."