Harlequins coach Jerry Flannery reckons a lack of discipline cost his side dearly as they fell to their first Gallagher Premiership defeat of the season against Sale Sharks 28-22.

The defending champions had won their opening three fixtures in reasonably convincing fashion, but gave away a litany of penalties on their trip to the north west against Sale.

And Flannery believes Harlequins indiscipline meant they could never find their footing throughout the contest.

"I think we gave away 21 penalties which is going to make it hard to win any game,” said Flannery.

"If you look at it on the balance of things, they missed three pretty kickable goals. 

"I thought we defended very well in periods but if you give away that many penalties, you’re just constantly giving the opposition field position. 

"They hurt us with their maul. While there was a lot of positives in it, we just didn’t manage the game as well as them."

A week prior, Quins produced a stunning 52-24 win over Bristol Bears which saw them run in seven second-half tries at the Stoop.

But the difference in playing style between Bristol and Sale stand in stark contrast, something which Flannery feels Quins were not able to adjust to throughout the loss.

“In terms of tempo, Sale are a complete different team to Bristol,” added Flannery.

“Bristol want to sling it around, Sale want to keep it tight, they want to kick box kicks, they want to see if you can handle getting out of your own half and we didn’t do that effectively. 

“You have to be physical against Sale, when we played them last season, we gave away 19 penalties and that’s as a result of good play from them. 

“We have to be able to handle teams that are going to be that direct with us.

“When we got some of our launches off our seven-man line out, we got great momentum and we started to look like us in attack. 

“But the majority of the game was us receiving kicks trying to get out of our half and not getting out. That was the game to me.”