EPL preview: Dogs eager to build on fine performance

Sheffield Steeldogs head into this weekend’s EPL games against Swindon Wildcats and Basingstoke Bison on a high after producing one of their “best performances ever”.

The Steeldogs recovered from a shock home defeat against Bracknell Bees to win 1-0 at Guildford Flames – a result which delighted captain Ben Morgan.

“The win in Guildford was probably the most pleasing one of the season, and even the lads who’ve been here a few years reckon it’s up there amongst our best performances ever,” he told the Sheffield Star.

“I can’t remember the last time we got a shutout. We’ve said for weeks that Jimmy Hadfield deserved one and we’re pleased to get one for the team – even if he had to share it with Brandon Stones following his game penalty!

While Saturday’s trip to Swindon represents a difficult enough challenge for Morgan and his teammates, he admitted he’s already looking forward to facing the reigning EPL champions the following day.

“Basingstoke seem to have a taken on the mantle of the most physical team in the league this season – we still want to be quite dominant on the ice, but have a different approach now,” added Morgan.

“Bison are one of those teams that are tricky to play, they have real grit about them and they are also stacked with quality.

“When we played them last they took a few liberties on the ice as we had guys missing, but this time we should have a full line-up so it will be interesting to see what roles some of their players decide to play on Sunday.”

Hull Player/Coach Dominic Osman believes the Pirates can mount a serious challenge for the title this season.

After struggling for much of last year, Osman’s team have impressed this time around and currently lie in third place, just a point behind MK Lightning with a game in hand.

The Pirates host Peterborough Phantoms on Saturday before travelling to Guildford on Sunday, and Osman is confident his team have the ability to keep up the pressure at the top of the table.

“Shane Smith (Pirates’ owner) and I talked about it the other night – at the end of last season and the beginning of this, to now, the conversations we’re having are very different,” he told the Hull Daily Mail.

“Originally we were talking about making the top-eight for the play-offs. All of a sudden we’re now thinking about how much more improving we can do as a team to make sure we move forward and overtake the second-placed side and look towards Telford.

“The fact we are doing that is a reflection on the excellent job done by the whole team and coaching staff, and full credit must go to them.

“We just need to make sure we win our game in hand and beat Tigers when we get the chance. They will drop points so we need to make sure we are doing the right things.”

WEEKEND FIXTURES

Saturday

Basingstoke Bison v Manchester Phoenix
Hull Pirates v Peterborough Phantoms
MK Lightning v Guildford Flames
Swindon Wildcats v Sheffield Steeldogs
Telford Tigers v Bracknell Bees

Sunday

Bracknell Bees v Swindon Wildcats
Guildford Flames v Hull Pirates
Manchester Phoenix v MK Lightning
Peterborough Phantoms v Telford Tigers
Sheffield Steeldogs v Basingstoke Bison

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