Gold looking on the bright side
Durban - Missing as many as nine regular players, all Springboks, did not help the Sharks cause, but if anything, the youngsters selected for the match certainly heeded the call to play with heart and commitment, according to Sharks website editor Michael Marnewick.
"I think it was a good look at the prospect of future Sharks playing today, and I think they put their hands up," Sharks director of rugby Gary Gold admitted after the game.
"We know how good the Lions are at home but we stuck in it for the full duration of the game and basically put ourselves in a position to win it.
"I think that’s what’s important, even the biggest critic or fan just wants to know that your team has some fight and spirit.
"There was an unbelievable period on our try line stopping the mauls and defending wave after wave of very good attack from the Lions that showed huge character for us to keep them out then we scored another try.
"I don’t think we spent four minutes in their 22 at all in the second half then when we got there, we took our opportunities and still didn’t give up after that.
"With a minute to go on the clock, we stayed in the fight and Fred had an opportunity to kick it. And if he kicked it we would be sitting here saying something completely different, ‘what unbelievable character to come back’ - well it’s still the same character.
"For this young group and where we are at the moment - we spoke long and hard about the Crusaders game – I really think they put their hands up; I’m just gutted for them that we didn’t get the result."
Gold admitted that there are still some question marks hanging around and that they aren’t avoiding answering them.
"We are not at a great place at the moment,” he said, "but we put our hands up saying that.
"We didn’t capitulate in this match, and if we did we may have conceded two or three more tries; we didn’t so I’m very proud."
He also felt that Lions coach Johan Ackermann deserves due praise for the work he is doing for his team.
"Ackers has done a great job from a coaching point of view.
"It makes life easier that there are minimal disruptions that they don’t have six or eight Springboks, they can be drilled week in and week out. They play for each other, they have outstanding passion and I hope we matched that in this game.
"I hope we matched their intensity and that the cynics can see we are a team that care about our performance as well.
"I think the South African conference will be unbelievably tight and one point separating three teams means anything can happen on the day and its good for SA rugby that it’s so competitive."