By: Tallis Miles
The Doncaster Sharks are closing in on a hard-earned Division 1 finals berth after stringing together six consecutive wins.
The Sharks’ good form has earned them some breathing space, as they sit a game clear inside the top five and in a comfortable fourth position.
Doncaster senior coach Andrew Tranquilli said the key to the side’s turn around in form has been due to “focussing on the basics and letting the scoreboard look after itself”.
After round eight the Sharks were sitting at four wins and four losses and looked a very real chance to miss out on the finals.
However, a gutsy but ultimately frustrating loss to the undefeated Vermont in round 9 reinvigorated the Sharks’ season.
Doncaster were dominant, but wasteful as they kicked 1 goal and 10 behinds in the final term to lose by a heartbreaking seven points against the top of the table Eagles.
The Sharks followed this performance with a comfortable 27-point win against Bayswater and backed-it up with a 12-point win against Norwood, away from home.
One of the highlights of the winning streak was a resounding 50-point win against third placed Balwyn.
In this match, the Sharks kicked seven last quarter goals to completely dismantle the reigning premiers.
A thrilling 4-point win over fellow finals contender Noble Park last weekend was also a highlight.
Tranquilli said the contest was played in “tough conditions” as the Sharks set about limiting “Noble Park’s damaging ball use”.
“We aimed to create congestion then win the footy and work it in our favour.”
He said the win was an important one for the group as it resulted in them “cementing our spot in the 5”.
Tranquilli said the Sharks’ sluggish start the season wasn’t down to the group “playing poorly” it was “marginal losses” and “the bounce of the ball here and a bounce of the ball there”.
However, Tranquilli said the improvement has been due to “(a) couple of things that we worked on and that we identified”.
He said a flexible game plan, where the Sharks “identify strengths” of their opposition and aim to reduce their influence on a match has been beneficial to the side.
Additionally, “a retweak (sic) of the forward line and improved forward entry” has made the Sharks more dangerous and efficient when attacking.
Doncaster’s bookends, key back Matthew Schimmelbusch and key forward Josh Lumicsi have been instrumental during the Sharks’ turnaround in form.
Schimmelbusch has been ultra-consistent down back as he shuts down opponents on a regular basis, while Lumicsi has gone goalless just once this season.
Lumicsi has two bags of 4 goals and two bags of 3 as he leads the clubs goal kicking with 26 for the season.
Additionally, Chris Annakis has been important through the middle of the ground as his performances have been a barometer for the Sharks.
In the run home, the Sharks are presented with challenging, but winnable games against East Ringwood, Rowville and Blackburn.
The Sharks face East Ringwood this weekend.
In round eight the Roos ran over the top of Doncaster to record a 14-point win.
Tranquilli said “they congested it up and we need to find a way to get it to the outside.”
He said the Sharks would be worrying “about our own performance” on the weekend.
The winning streak has given his group “a bit of confidence and purpose” about what they are doing, but he denied that the Sharks were the form team of the competition.
However, Tranquilli did say “winning form is good form” and the Sharks will be aiming to carry this winning form for the remainder of the season.