Johannesburg – Following his side's 31-25 Currie Cup victory over the Lions in Johannesburg on Friday evening, Sharks coach Brad Macleod-Henderson praised the attitude of his players, as the Durban outfit climbed to the top of the Currie Cup standings.
“There were some fantastic things tonight. I thought the character shown by the guys (was good),” Macleod-Henderson said after the game at Ellis Park last night.
“Our set piece maybe didn't function as well as we would have liked, but the character shown, the amount of line-breaks that we made was great to see.”
The visitors overturned a four point deficit at half-time, as flyhalf Fred Zeilinga scored 21 points for the Sharks, securing the victory by six points, after both teams scored three tries apiece.
Zeilinga scored a try, two conversions, two penalties and two drop-goals to help the Sharks reach the summit of the points table, putting them in pole position for a home semi-final after the round-robin stage of the tournament.
“I worked with Fred last year and we always knew he was a phenomenal player,” the Sharks boss said of Zeilinga's performance.
“We're just very happy to see the way that he's taken the step up and he was awesome again, so it was great to see.”
Shifting his attention to their next encounter, Macleod-Henderson said the coastal side would have to remain focused on bagging maximum points against the Bulls in Pretoria next week.
“The whole campaign, we've really taken it one game at a time. We've seen how the Currie Cup has thrown up upsets pretty much every week and most games have been very tight,” he said.
“We know we have a tough one on Friday night up in Pretoria, so we'll be focusing on that.
“We know that if we win the next two and we win the semi, we have a home final, which is actually the ultimate prize, but there is still a process we need to follow to get there.”
Meanwhile, Lions coach Johan Ackermann admitted he was disappointed with the way in which his team defended, and added that the Johannesburg outfit would have to improve in that department if they are to challenge for a semi-final place.
“We've worked hard on our defence but at the moment it still isn't going our way. We gave away a few soft points and when we were ahead, it was nerve-wrecking because we couldn't hold onto our lead,” Ackermann said.
“But credit to the Sharks. Individual brilliance from the Sharks at stages broke the game.”
The defeat leaves Ackermann's team third in the standings, seven points behind the Sharks and Western Province.
Western Province trail the Sharks by virtue of an inferior points difference, despite a hard-fought 29-27 win over the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein earlier on Friday. – Sapa