By Connor Schmidtke
Chris Annakis has done a lot for the Doncaster Football Club, but on Saturday he notched another impressive achievement for his beloved Sharks – a win as coach.
After another tough start to the year with three straight losses, Annakis and the Sharks recorded their first victory of the season with a 17-point victory over Berwick.
Doncaster trailed at half-time but finished strong in the second half, claiming the four-points in a defence-first style of game.
Annakis said his side believed it was just a matter of time before they got their first win on the board.
“We felt like we were building towards a win, we’ve been working hard, and we were sort of expecting things to turn,
“When you get a new coach takeover, there’s a bit of a teething process,
“Week by week we knew we were going to improve, and we were happy that we got a few things right on Saturday, and the result went our way.”
Despite some heavy losses in the opening three rounds, the scoreboard didn’t seem to paint an accurate picture of Doncaster’s efforts.
In round two, they trailed by less than four goals at half-time against Doncaster East and the following week, they were just 16-points behind Blackburn heading into the final term.
In both games they faded late to make the final result look unfavourable, but Annakis believed his team deserved more credit for their efforts.
“I think the scoreboard in rounds two and three didn’t really reflect the game and output on the day.
“The East Doncaster game we were maybe nine-points down just before red-time in the second quarter and we let a couple opportunities slip late, which was not ideal.
“With the Blackburn one too, we were closer than what that showed, but it just shows that our lapses were probably going for a bit too long, so that was something we addressed during the week,
“We tried to nullify the oppositions impact during these lapses and try get it back on our terms sooner rather than later.”
One aspect that Doncaster was particularly poor at in 2021 was in their defensive half. The sharks conceded an average of 88 points per game to opposition teams, the second most of any team in the Premier Division across the shortened season.
This statistic has been improved so far in 2022, with that average down to less than 80 points per game against across the first four weeks. This included last weekend’s win, where they held Berwick to just three goals and 31 total points for the game.
“We’re a side that prides ourselves on playing defence first.
“I think our best opportunities come from when we nullify their drive forward, then we counter-attack and try to score that way.
“We’re a physical side, we’re a defence-first side and we’re a tackling side so we pride ourselves on that.
“That’s what we are trying to do, trying to limit their output so we can go close to winning these games.”
The attention for Annakis and his side now swings to this Saturday’s crucial clash with North Ringwood.
The Saints have had plenty of struggles themselves this season, losing four straight games and sitting at the bottom of the ladder.
This presents a great opportunity for Doncaster to string to back-to-back wins in the Premier Division, helping them to stay in touch with the top-four.
Despite North Ringwood’s start to the year, Annakis believes the game could easily go either way.
“We are not going out on Saturday expecting it to be an easy game, we’re going out there expecting a tough contest.
“I’ve looked at their games and noticed they’ve been in the games, like us, and the scoreboard hasn’t reflected how tight the game was.
“I’m sure they are coming out thinking they’re a red-hot chance, and the game will come down to whoever wants it more on the day.”