DIRECTOR of rugby Steve Diamond said he was proud of his Sale Sharks players in the wake of last Friday's agonising, last-gasp 35-30 Premiership defeat at Newcastle.

Having fallen 25-0 behind after a tough first 25 minutes at Kingston Park, the Sharks then staged a stunning fightback and with less than two minutes left on the clock led 30-28.

However, with virtually their first attack of the second-half, Falcons' replacement Rob Vickers crossed the line to snatch victory for the hosts.

It was a cruel end for the Sharks for whom Marland Yarde scored a superb brace of tries with Ben Curry also touching down.

"We just lacked the killer instinct to close the game out and get the win," Diamond told the club's website.

"We didn't start particularly well but the two tries before half time got us back in the game and then we took control of it for 35 minutes of the second half. As against Bath and Exeter we just didn't control the last five.

"You've got to give credit to Newcastle as they were ruthless in that first 20 minutes but after that I was really proud of the lads.

"They put in a great shift after those first 20 minutes when we weren't at the races but you can't afford to give sides – especially top-four sides – a 25 point head start."

The result saw the Sharks slip one place in the table to seventh and with only two games of the campaign remaining, it means hopes of a top-four finish now look a tall order.

However, the Sale boss said there was still plenty riding on the next few weeks.

"There is still plenty to play for and if we could have closed the game out it would have been a different kettle of fish," Diamond added.

"We've got to go to Exeter and then got Leicester at home. We'll be combative and we'll have a go."