Sharks coach John Plumtree says their improved set-pieces and ability to handle pressure better were key factors to overcoming the Stormers in Durban on Saturday.
The Durban franchise bagged their second straight Super Rugby win and consigned their Cape rivals to a second consecutive loss thanks to a narrow 12-6 scoreline at Kings Park.
In a drab, but tight South Afrcan derby, neither team managed to break the deadlock before the break, with Springbok fly-half Patrick Lambie's four penalties outweighing two from Joe Pietersen in the second half as the Sharks held on.
"The set-piece operated well enough, whereas possibly in the past we haven't been able to do that to the Stormers line-out," said the Sharks coach.
"So that evened up the playing field a little bit.
"Because the line-out operated well, we were able to relieve pressure, which was unlike the Currie Cup final. That was probably the major difference tonight."
During the opening 40 minutes, both teams appeared hesitant to run with ball in hand, instead opting to constantly boot the ball upfield, although the visitors did manage to breach into the home 22 on a few occasions.
"Everything was about pressure out there and it came down to who could cope with it," said Plumtree.
"We just had to be patient. We went away from our attacking theme a little bit in the first half, but the second half we managed to get a bit more momentum at times to get a little bit more width.
"But the Stormers hit you so hard, if you go away from the plan then you can end up on the back foot."
Victory allowed the hosts to clinch a win that moved them to second in the local conference standings and fifth overall.
Stormers coach Allister Coetzee was not too downcast after the loss, opting instead to look at the positives in a match that came hot on the heels of a 25-17 loss to the Bulls last week and saw them drop to 12th overall.
"It was always going to be a tough start to the competition and this was really an arm wrestle, a dog fight and one of the toughest derbies you can get," said Coetzee .
"It was almost like a Test match out there.
"We're a team that's not used to losing and if you want to be a championship side, you can't be happy with losing. But in saying that, I was very pleased with the effort and the attitude. It was a big step-up from last week and I'll take a lot of heart from this performance." Coetzee admitted there was concern about the scrum, but added, "Our line-out functioned much better and tactically we were also very good.
"There's a long way to go in the competition and I got no doubt in my mind we'll be there contending come the end of the season."