Sale director of rugby Steve Diamond criticised his front row as his team meekly succumbed to Northampton in Thursday night's Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-final.

Bath-bound England international prop Henry Thomas was outplayed by opposition loosehead Ethan Waller, while Ireland representative Tony Buckley, who came on for Thomas, failed to get the Sharks' scrum moving forward.

The midlands outfit also scored three tries from driving mauls as the Sharks failed to halt the power of the Saints' forward eight in their 28-14 defeat, much to the frustration of Diamond.

"A few people in our set-up have shown their true colours tonight, I don't think that we had a great performance by anybody," he said.

"Our scrum didn't hold up. We've got international props who are not playing to the standard that they've been selected for internationally, so we've got to have a good look at our selection.

"We were out-enthused in the first half. At half-time we couldn't play any worse than we did in the first so it looks as if we had a good second half, but in reality we were disappointing.

"There will be some harsh words. We can put up with dropping the ball and giving penalties away, but when we're out-enthused that's one thing that hasn't happened this year."

The Sharks missed out on the chance of a home semi-final against either Stade Francais or Harlequins following a disastrous first half in which Jim Mallinder's men dominated.

Tries from Ben Nutley (twice), Sam Dickinson and Ben Foden secured the victory for the Saints and Northampton's boss was delighted by the performance.

"I was very pleased," Mallinder said. "It was a good first half, we learned a few lessons from two weeks ago (their 19-6 defeat to Sale in the Aviva Premiership) and scored some good tries.

"It's a tough place to come up here, on a Thursday night in particular. We've played a number of the younger lads and I thought they were very good.

"I was very impressed with the first 40 minutes. Our mauling game was very good, our play out of our half, which has let us down over the last two weeks, was also pleasing.

"A lot of the group we had playing tonight have been the group we had over the Six Nations and the LV= Cup period, so we've got that cohesion there."