NIHL National - Silverware on line as Hull Pirates and Leeds Chiefs lock horns again

IT may still be early in the season but Hull Pirates’ player-coach Jason Hewitt admits the gap between his team and current leaders Swindon Wildcats is already a concern.

DOGFIGHT: Hull Pirates player-coach Jason Hewitt, right, expects Leeds Chiefs to prove dogged opponents tonight. Picture: Tony Sargent.

While some teams have reached the quarter-way mark, fifth-placed Hull already find themselves 10 points adrift of their Wiltshire rivals, albeit with two games in hand.

And while Hewitt is confident his team can take care of their own business and win the remaining three games against the leaders, he acknowledges they are already relying on results elsewhere in order to overturn the gap.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

“Obviously, there are still a lot of games to go and you wouldn’t usually already be looking at it (the table) already,” said Hewitt.

Sheffield Steeldogs' player-coach, Ben Morgan. Picture courtesy of Cerys Molloy.

“But the issue we’ve got for ourselves is – and we’re only focussed on ourselves – with Swindon being so far ahead, we only play them three more times so that doesn’t see us close that gap.

“So we’ve got to take care of our games against them but then you are already relying on other people to do their stuff, so it does look quite daunting.

“And with the team they’ve got they are certainly capable of running away with it – but all we can do is pick up our points.”

Saturday sees Hull welcome Leeds Chiefs for a second time this season, the previous encounter between the two a fortnight ago going the way of the hosts in a 5-4 overtime win.

The Pirates have teamed up with the British Army to create a new Yorkshire Remembrance Day trophy, sponsored by the Royal British Legion, the SSAFA (the Armed Forces Charity), and the Defence School of Transport.

Hewitt, missing the first clash against the Chiefs due to work commitments, but expects to face-off against a Chiefs team sporting a never-say-die attitude.

“While they’ve got Sam Gospel in net they will always have a chance as he is an exceptional goalie,” added Hewitt.

“I know he’s been playing out of his skin a lot of games and is probably a big reason why they’ve been in a lot of close games, but we are quite an offensive team so we’ll be looking to pile it on a bit.

“But knowing Sammy and some of the other guys there they are never going to quit, they are a hard-working, blue-collar team.”

Hull follow up tonight’s derby date with a trip to Telford tomorrow, while Leeds ‘host’ Swindon in Widnes.

Sheffield Steeldogs will look to build on last week’s win at Leeds with a visit to Raiders IHC before returning home to host bottom club Milton Keynes Lightning.