Johannesburg - The Sharks have passed an important test when they beat the Lions 25-12 at Ellis Park in Johannesburg on Saturday evening for their first away victory of this year's Super Rugby competition.
Away victories have been difficult to come by for most of the teams and this triumph further confirmed the Sharks as one of the leading teams in the competition.
The coastal side took four points from the match to open a nine-point gap between them and the Bulls, the nearest South African rival on the log, while they have two points over the second-placed Brumbies, and a game in hand.
While Sharks director of rugby Jake White believed his charges should have closed the match down sooner, he was nevertheless satisfied with their first away victory.
"If you look at the competition generally teams don't win away from home...if you look at the nature of the competition it is very hard to get away wins," White said.
"So any away win, no matter if it is a home derby, or if people think the one team is stronger than the other, is significant."
The sides went into the half-time break 6-all despite the Sharks dominating both in terms of territory and possession.
"I am happy that we had to put everything into it to get the result, at 6-6 some teams would have let the home team take the advantage there," White said.
"I thought we played enough rugby to be better than 6-6 at half-time, they got into our half twice in the first half and got six points, at that stage we probably had 70 percent possession and territory but we didn't manage to finish off.
"Credit to them, they scrambled well (on defence), they covered well for each other and made it hard for us to get over the line."
The Sharks suffered an early setback when flhyhalf Fred Zeilinga was forced off the field in the 18th minute with a hamstring strain.
Lions coach Johan Ackermann was again left frustrated as he believed their decision making let them down.
"My message to the players is simple, we will continue to be in this situation if we are don't learn quickly and make the right decisions on the field," Ackermann said.
"They were good in the rucks, we were better than last week but that is still a big area for us to work on."
Ackermann believed his side were better than the 13-point beating they received at the hands of the visitors.
"It was disappointing because I don't think the score is a true reflection of the game," he said.
"They didn't dominate the game in the sense that we were 13 points behind them, 15-12 would probably have been better, not satisfactory but better.
"Credit to them they played the full 80 minutes and took their opportunities."