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Hawks swooping for play-offs
8:39am Friday 21st February 2014 in Sport
BLACKBURN Hawks can book their spot in the end of season play-offs this weekend – having missed out on the NIHL Moralee Conference title.
The Hawks, who were play-off winners last year, made a slow start to the season so always faced a tough task to overhaul Solway Sharks at the top of the table.
And the championship is now beyond Hawks after Solway secured the victory they needed last weekend.
But Hawks coach Jared Owen is now targeting second spot, and a slightly easier play-off tie, heading into the final four games.
Hawks host Telford Titans tomorrow (5.45pm) and visit Whitley Warriors on Sunday knowing that two wins will guarantee their place in the play-offs – which this year take place on a single weekend in Dumfries next month.
And Owen is determined to ensure the Hawks take their chance at the first time of asking.
He said: “We want to make sure of the play-offs this weekend and then go on and get second place.
“Finishing second or third means we will avoid Solway in the semi-finals and that gives us an easier chance but the first thing is to twin these two games and I am confident we can.”
It would be a major surprise if the Hawks were beaten by a Telford side yet to win a game this season but Owen is refusing to count his chickens.
“We won’t be taking them lightly,” he said. “They are starting to pick up and we will be professional.”
Of the task at Whitley, who sit fourth in the table, Owen added: “We have had a couple of good results against them already this season and I am confident we can go there and win.”
Hawks will have to claim the victory without a number of defence men with four regulars missing.
Chris Butler is out with a hand injury while Rhys Cairney-Witter begins a four game suspension. Scott Robson has been recalled by parent club Hull and Olly Lomax is in Australia cheering on Wigan Warriors in the Rugby League World Club Challenge.
Hawks will also be without netminder Danny Brittle for the clash with Telford meaning Stu Ashton will start.