BLACKBURN Hawks have been challenged to put last weekend's defeat at Solway Sharks right by coach Dan MacKriel.

After a crucial comeback win over Whitley Warriors the week before the Hawks let their north east rivals back into the Moralee Conference title race when they were beaten 5-3 by the Sharks.

The Warriors now have a game in hand which will close the gap at the top to five points, making this weekend's double header for the Hawks crucial.

They are at home to Billingham Stars (5.45pm) today and away at Solihull Barons (6pm) tomorrow.

"We've got to put it right now. We go back to our basics and playing how we know we can play, that's at speed, full of confidence, making sure the team sticks together," said MacKriel.

"That's how we've gained success and that's what we have to go back to.

"Billingham are on the up, they've been getting some good results, and Solihull is always a tough place to go. They're quick, they're physical, it's a smaller ice rink, it's a more intimidating place and it will be a massive challenge this weekend."

MacKriel's side looked to have made a significant statement on the title race when they beat the Warriors 4-3, having been 3-1 behind, but he said they 'just didn't turn up' at Dumfries against the Sharks.

"We didn't play well across any of the three periods. But you have to take your hat of to Solway, they played extremely well," he said.

"It's a kick up the backside which shows this league title isn't over and there's still a massive fight on.

"Against Whitley we played extremely well for two periods and I thought we'd take that into the Solway game, where we've been good on the road recently.

"Now Whitley have a game in hand and the chance to pull the lead back to five points, which leads us on to the weekend. We've got two tough games and we need two good performances, but more importantly the points."

Defeat in Scotland was the second this season for the Hawks, and it came to a Solway side down in seventh in the Moralee Conference.

MacKriel believes that shows the strength in the league, but he knows a second successive league title remains in the Blackburn outfit's hands.

"Every time in the league is capable of beating any other on any given day," he said. "You've got to turn up and perform week in, week out this year, whereas in previous years you could probably get away with a mediocre performance and still come away with the points.

"This year the league is so strong that you have to perform at your optimum level for each game, and if you don't you don't come away with the two points.

"Everything is still in our hands, we go out and we play to our level and play to how we know we can play and it stays in our hands.

"They're snapping at our heels but you can't look at other teams throughout the league. We play the way we play and focus on what we're trying to do and the results will come."