Durban - Sharks coach Brad Macleod-Henderson said both the technical staff and the players were greatly relieved, following their come-from-behind Currie Cup victory over the Lions in Durban on Friday.
"There is a lot of relief (in the dressing room),” Macleod-Henderson said after the home side had trailed 17-6 after the first quarter.
“A lot of guys were playing their first or second games for the Sharks and it’s fantastic for them to win."
The hosts went on to win the tight contest 33-25 at Kings Park, giving recently-appointed director of rugby Brendan Venter his first victory after the Sharks crashed to an embarrassing 32-30 home loss to Griquas last weekend.
“It’s always important to win and that’s what we’ll be judged on. But it is a process.
"We are at the beginning of our journey. I can certainly say that this week we were better than last week and we can hopefully get better and better in the weeks ahead.”
The plucky visitors raced into an early lead thanks to two breakaway tries from winger Anthony Volmink early in the contest.
After the home side hit back, courtesy of scores from flank Brynard Stander and centre Heimar Williams on debut, another try from the Lions, via Jaco Kriel, helped them edge ahead with less than 20 minutes to play.
But another debutant, former Southern Kings back SP Marais, intercepted a Robert de Bruyn pass late on to seal the win.
“It was worrying when we were 17-6 down, especially because we had played most of the rugby,” said Macleod-Henderson, who along with Sean Everitt were working alongside Venter.
“The reassuring thing was that we were doing all the running, so we knew if we continued doing that, we would be all right. But the starts we are having are a bit worrying and will be looked at more this week.”
He also hailed the character of the young team, playing without several of their stars who are away on Springbok duty.
"The way the guys fought back was fantastic. When you’re in that situation, your head might drop and you think the whole world’s against you.
"But the guys stood up, fought back and got a great win.”
On the negative side for the Sharks was the news veteran Springbok back Odwa Ndungane could be out for at least three weeks after injuring his hamstring.
“It looks quite serious, but we’ll have a look on Monday,” Macleod-Henderson said.
A frustrated Lions coach Johan Ackermann, whose side was winless in the competition, did not shy away from the reasons they lost.
“I’m disappointed in some crucial errors that we made,” he said.
“We gave them points for free a few times tonight due to a lack of discipline and that is unacceptable. The players have to be better than that.”
With a trip to the Bulls due next week, Ackermann admitted they now faced a tough task to reach the play-offs, even though the competition had only just started.
“We are back against the wall now, because if you lose three or four games, you’re sitting at the bottom and it’s going to be tough to come back from that."