After losing 28-34 in the opening group game at London Irish, Sale went on to beat Saracens twice, Wasps at Adams Park and Scarlets at the Salford City Stadium to reach the final for the first time.
Today is the first time Sale Sharks have played in a major final since May 2006 when they beat Leicester Tigers in the Guinness Premiership Final at Twickenham.
Sharks had to make two late changes with Will Addison and Marc Jones failing fitness tests. Sammy Tuitupou moved into centre and Tommy Taylor started as hooker with Aston Croall and Charlie Amesbury named as replacements.
Quins scored first through a Botica penalty on 5 minutes but it must be remembered that in all the games Sharks have won in this competition, they have not scored first.
Quins went 8-0 up on ten minutes with a try through Tom Williams after sustained pressure by Quins. Botica's touch line conversion attempt failed and Sharks had a lot to do, to get a foothold in the game.
Andy Powell carried on his good work from last week on 12 minutes when he took ball from base of scrum and made a good 20 metres.
Sharks earned a penalty on 15mins from a scrum and Cipriani stepped up and slotted the ball home 3-8.
The game was being played at a fast pace which was a credit to both sides on a heavy pitch.
Quins scored their second try on 27 mins from the base of a 5metre scrum. Captain Tom Guest was too big for Tom Brady to stop. Botica converted and Sharks trailed 3-15, needing to score next.
Sale responded well and earned a penalty which Cipriani kicked from 15metres out 6-15. But Quins came straight back at Sale and were awarded a penalty for offside. Botica kicked it to restore Quins 12 point lead 6-18.
The tempo increased in physicality towards the end of the half which ended when Brady called 'mark' in his own 22 and kicked the ball into touch.
Half Time Sale Sharks 6 Harlequins 18
Sharks were quick out of the traps after the restart with Andy Powell and Tony Buckley making some serious inroads into Quins defence. Sharks were awarded a penalty on 42 minutes which Cipriani kicked 9-18. This however re-energised Quins and former Sale Jet Tom Casson raced through to score a great try which Botica converted 9-25.
Quins scored their 4thtry on 54 mins through flanker Luke Wallace and Botica's conversion all but killed off the Sharks at 9-32.
Sale threw caution to the win desperate to leave their mark on the final but a promising move broke down when Andy Powell knocked on.
58 mins Jonny Leota scored in front of the travelling fans to raise the biggest cheer of the afternoon. Cipriani's conversion failed. 14-32.
Sale threw caution to the wind and threw the ball about trying their best to penetrate the Quins defence again. They threw everything they could at Quins but their defence held firm.
Sharks used all the substitutes in a game that was lost but gave all the players 1-23 a chance of playing on the big stage. The crowd was announced as 8,297 which was a good effort from both sets of supporters.
Final Score Sale Sharks 14 Harlequins 32
Sale Sharks:Nick Macleod; Tom Brady (off 50mins), Sam Tuitupou, Jonny Leota, Charlie Ingall (off 67mins); Danny Cipriani, Nathan Fowles (off 50mins); Alasdair Dickinson (off 55mins), Tommy Taylor (off 74mins), Tony Buckley (off 50mins), Fraser McKenzie (off 50mins), Tom Holmes, James Gaskell, David Seymour (off 50mins), Andy Powell.
Replacements: Aston Croall (on for Taylor 74mins), Ross Harrison (on for Dickinson 55mins), Henry Thomas (on for Buckley 50mins) Andrei Ostrikov (on for McKenzie 50mins), Dan Braid (on for Seymour 50mins), Dwayne Peel (on for Fowles 50mins), Charlie Amesbury (on for Ingall 67mins), Mark Cueto (on for Brady 50mins)
Scoring Sequence (Sharks First):0-3, 0-8, 3-8, 3-13, 3-15, 6-15, 6-18 (Half Time) 9-18, 9-23, 9-25, 9-30, 9-32, 14-32 (Full Time)
|Harlequins Score Card|
|Sale Sharks Score Card|