Sale boss John Mitchell praised his side in the wake of the hard-fought 17-6 Heineken Cup defeat to Toulon at Salford City Stadium.
The Sharks were always in the game against the star-studded French club, who moved nine points clear of their nearest rivals in Pool Six with their third victory from three.
"It was a privilege to play against such a side," Mitchell said. "It's quite exceptional in world rugby to have a club side that has icons from South Africa, Australia and England in Bakkies Botha, Matt Giteau and Jonny Wilkinson.
"They are special days in one's rugby life so I couldn't think of a better side to test the character of the group.
"After last week one thing we asked of the guys in order to move forward - we need to basically stay in the contest for a lot longer and we managed to do that.
"I thought we fought very well and also showed more maturity than we did last week. We didn't get frustrated when we lost possession and we generated some exceptional work without the ball.
"I think an example of how much we've grown in a week was the way we defended our goal-line with about 12 minutes to go. It gives you a sign of where we've got to head towards in order to advance in the Premiership.
"The Premiership is not about being the most exciting football team - it's about being a collective team that's prepared to work together and hang in there. It was a very good collective performance.
"I think tonight we showed it's a good starting point. What we've got to do now is build on that each week."