Pressure off Gold after Sharks win
Cape Town - Sharks director of rugby Gary Gold was relieved after his team managed to overcome the Lions with a bonus-point victory at a rain-drenched King's Park in Durban on Saturday.
The hosts had come into the game under pressure after a shock opening round loss to the Cheetahs seven days earlier, but did exceptionally to score four tries for a 29-12 triumph in atrocious conditions.
"I think relief is the word," Gold said afterwards.
"It's certainly not a big celebration. It's such early days now, you can throw all these cliches around and say you move on from the loss like last week.
"But you don't really move on from a loss like that. It was disappointing and really it was our fault.
"We didn't perform well enough, so it was weighing heavily on our minds.
"That's the psychological challenge you have as a coach, it's hopefully to give the players confidence that they're good enough and they can come back from something like that.
Springbok loose forward Marcell Coetzee scored two second-half tries, adding to scores from Odwa Ndungane and Cobus Reinach in the opening 40 minutes.
"I didn't ever imagine we would score four tries in those conditions," Gold said.
"But I'm very grateful it did end up that way. I thought we managed the game well to be able to keep the momentum that got us to those opportunities that led to the tries.
"I was happy with the urgency and the general play all around. So I'm very proud of the performance."
Gold also reserved special praise for returning skipper Bismarck du Plessis, who was named man-of-the-match after missing last week's defeat with a shoulder injury.
"Bismarck's presence was a factor, there's no doubt about it, because we know what a world-class player he is for so many reasons," the Sharks boss added.
"He threw particularly well today, he led the team well and obviously he stabilised our scrum."
Lions counterpart Johan Ackermann echoed the sentiments of Gold, and said the performance of the South African vice-captain played a telling role.
"Bismarck made the big difference there," said Ackermann.
"He outsmarted our young front row and was exceptional.
"Those scrum penalties were very disappointing, we are far better than that. But credit must go to the Sharks."
Ackermann, however, felt they did miss their chance after closing to within three points of their opponents midway through the second half, thanks to four penalties from Marnitz Boshoff, before eventually folding.
"There's no excuses really," he added.
"At 15-12 we gave ourselves the chance and then they outmuscled us, so credit to them.
"They have a quality team, quality players and we were taught a lesson here."