Durban - Sharks coach Brad MacLeod-Henderson felt the growing 'gees' in his squad played a key role in helping to overcome the Golden Lions in a gripping Currie Cup contest in Durban on Friday.
The defending champions emerged 26-23 victors at Kings Park thanks largely to a superb second-half kicking exhibition by substitute Fred Zeilinga, who scored a match-winning 21 points.
"It was great to see the passion the guys played with," MacLeod-Henderson said afterwards.
"The team spirit or 'gees' is growing and we want to keep that growing as we get close to the semi-finals."
The hosts were outscored by two tries to one thanks to Ruan Combrinck and Stokkies Hanekom, but flyhalf Zeilinga, utilised on the wing, slotted seven out of his eight kicks.
Centre Andre Esterhuizen scored the only try for the hosts as they stretched their unbeaten run to four games.
The decisive kick by Zeilinga came seven minutes from time as the Sharks held on and in the process kept alive their outside hopes of a home semi-final.
"It was also a fitting send-off for veteran flanker Jacques Botes in what was his last match in Durban before retirement, although there could yet be a final goodbye should the Sharks beat Western Province away next week and the Lions lose at home to the Free State Cheetahs.
"I think the defence was fantastic, the work ethic was great, they worked really hard and our attack looked quite dangerous, so it was great to watch," the coach said.
"Our defence has been very good and it's improved in leaps and bounds over the last few weeks.
"We've also probably cut down on our unforced errors, which were very high at a stage.
"There's belief we can beat Province next week. It's going to take a huge effort, but it's possible."
Zeilinga was an early substitute for centre Paul Jordaan, who now looks certain to miss the rest of the season with a broken hip.
"It was the one position we knew we're going to be in trouble with and it happened after five minutes, but it just shows the character of the guys.
"Someone like Fred is a young guy, but he has such a cool head. He played on the wing, he kicked all his penalties, he was never found out of position, so it was great. All 22 guys put up fantastic performances."
Meanwhile Lions coach Johan Ackermann felt that poor discipline cost them.
"It was a big problem and also our lost possession, which was either at the ruck or line-out," he said.
"Those happened at crucial stages and we were punished with four penalties in about 13 minutes.
"We just couldn't get our discipline going and there's still a lot of work for us to do if we want to get that home semi-final."