Steve Diamond delighted as Sale beat Newcastle to secure European place
Sale director of rugby Steve Diamond was delighted after Joe Ford kicked two crucial second-half penalties to beat Newcastle and put the Sharks into the European Champions Cup next season.
Sale's 21-15 win at Kingston Park guaranteed the Sharks sixth place in the Premiership after Harlequins were hammered by Exeter.
"We've come up here to win and we did - but it's never easy and it wasn't today," Diamond said.
"Joe came on and slotted two vital kicks and stepped into the breech when we had an injury to Mike Haley and that was difference in the second half.
"Newcastle couldn't live with us for the first 20 minutes, but fair play to them, they got back in the game and every time they went to the corner we struggled to cope and they scored.
"We knew it would be a battle and I think we got the rub of the green and were lucky to win, but time and time again we prove we have a relentless desire to be at the top of the game.
"We're proud to be in the Champions Cup and to represent the north and we hope Newcastle will (do so) with us in the near future."
While Sale can celebrate this result, there are concerns going forward with a number of players due to leave. However, Diamond said there was no reason for major concern.
"We will keep doing what we do," he said. "We have people who come and stay for four or five year and we're disappointed when people leave.
"Danny Cipriani and Tommy Taylor are the only two leaving of their own volition and you could argue it's the right decision for them at this stage of the careers."
The lack of reliable goal-kicker cost the Falcons dearly - they failed to convert any of their three tries - but Dean Richards, Newcastle's director of rugby, was under no illusions it was his side's own mistakes, of which there were many, which were the most costly.
"We wanted to express ourselves today and to win the game," he said. "But we made a lot of unforced errors which cost us the game.
"I've said it all year that someone was going to cop it and it should have been Sale today, but we have to look at ourselves and it's our fault we lost.
"It's been a frustrating season - we should be half-way up the table but that's not the case."