Following Saracens' 22-20 defeat to Sale Sharks on Friday night, Mark McCall says that several key aspects let his team down in Greater Manchester.

The reigning Gallagher Premiership champions fought hard against the league leaders but paid the price for some poor basics as they fell to a second straight league defeat, leaving them outside the top four going into Christmas.

"Our scrum was really poor, our defensive maul was really poor and if you are not on top of those things, it becomes very difficult against a side as good as Sale," McCall said.

A repeat of last season's final, McCall's team struggled to establish themselves at Salford Stadium and were put to the sword as George Ford inspired the North West club to victory.

Leading at the break after a promising first-half performance in which Ivan van Zyl crossed the whitewash, Saracens were undone by tries from Sale's Tom Roebuck and Luke Cowan-Dickie.

In spite of defeat, Saracens' director of rugby was able to find some positives to his team's performance after the final whistle.

"What did please me was the fight around it, between it, and the energy that the players played with," McCall said.

"There was no feeling sorry for ourselves, just a real desire to get on with it and try to fight and claw our way into the game, we did."

The result meaning that the North London club will be fifth in the Gallagher Premiership at Christmas and are level on points with fellow London club, Harlequins.

Next up for the defending champions is a visit from Newcastle Falcons on Saturday, with Alex Codling's side still on the lookout for a first win of the season.