AFTER admitting his embarrassment at last week’s capitulation at champions-elect Basingstoke Bison, Hull Pirates player-coach Dominic Osman will be hoping for a positive response from his players for the visit from Bracknell Bees on Friday night.
Victory over the Bees in the first of three games in as many nights for Hull, would almost certainly ensure Hull avoided finishing bottom of the table.
A win for the visitors, however, would see Bracknell move to within a point of the Pirates with four games remaining.
Hull-born forward Jamie Cobley will have been hurting more than most after last weekend’s fruitless visit to Hampshire, which - courtesy of a much-improved display - was followed by a 6-3 defeat the following night at third-placed Guildford Flames.#
At the heart of Hull’s problems, believes Cobley, is their inability to string together a full-on 60-minute performance.
“We seem to do well in periods of play, but never seem to do it for 60 minutes and that’s crucial,” said the 27-year-old former Hull Jets forward.
“We were 2-0 up in four minutes against Guildford last Sunday, but then they scored three times in four minutes which left us pushing to get back in the game.
“This game is definitely important, we want to continue to finish the season strongly and show fans what we have got.”
After hosting Bracknell, Hull hit the road to take on Milton Keynes before returning to East Yorkshire to face-off against Yorkshire rivals, Sheffield Steeldogs.
In the last meeting of the season between the White Rose rivals, Hull will be keen to register their first win over the former club of Pirates’ owner, Shane Smith.
Previous meetings in Hull saw a 4-1 win for Sheffield on December 27, before they returned in February to record a 7-5 triumph.
“We’ve had good results against Milton Keynes before and the Sheffield ones have been close too,” added Cobley.
“We want to show people what we can do - we have shown glimpses of it, but not on a consistent basis.”
Cobley remains optimistic of Hull earning at least one win this weekend and took encouragement from the improved display in defeat at Guildford.
“Over the course of this weekend, we want to come out with six points, definitely,” he said.
“It was just a bad weekend really - everything we seemed to try just didn’t work on Saturday.
“We didn’t stick to our systems, but on Sunday we seemed to improve, knuckled down and worked a lot harder, but it still was not good enough on the night.”
Greg Wood’s Steeldogs host Bracknell on Saturday night before heading down the M62 to Hull on Sunday.
The South Yorkshire club head into the weekend knowing they are almost assured of finishing the regular season in seventh spot and looking to bounce back from defeats to Peterborough Phantoms and Telford Tigers last time out.
Defenceman Lee Haywood said the team needed to adopt a play-off mentality from this point forward in order to give themselves the best opportunity of reaching the final four weekend in Coventry.
“We are building up to the play-offs,” said Haywood after a 4-2 defeat on the road at Telford 24 hours after going down 5-2 at home to Peterborough.
“All we are wanting now are some good performances. We have struggled a bit of late so it’s important for us to get those performances.
“We need to be a bit more clinical coming into the business end of the season.
“We have to get into that play-off mentality now. We definitely want to try and make it to Coventry.
“We have to do everything right to make it and prepare for those two massive games. It won’t matter who it is that we play against, we have to be ready.”.