Leeds Chiefs v Hull Pirates - Clinical approach required for Chiefs to enjoy derby success

GIVEN the contrasting nature of his team’s two performances against Hull Pirates this season, Leeds Chiefs’ player-coach Sam Zajac knows which one he wants to see a repeat of tonight.

By Phil Harrison
Saturday, 23rd November 2019, 9:29 am
Updated Saturday, 23rd November 2019, 11:23 am
OPTIMISTIC: Leeds Chiefs' player-coach Sam Zajac. Picture courtesy of Steve Brodie.
OPTIMISTIC: Leeds Chiefs' player-coach Sam Zajac. Picture courtesy of Steve Brodie.

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“They are a very offensive-minded team so we know we’ve got to be more clinical in taking our chances because they are going to create plenty of their own.”

Given the continued wait for their Elland Road rink to be completed, the Chiefs remain very much a team permanently on the road, meaning it has been a testing inaugural campaign.

But their resolve was tested even further earlier this week when a van packed with equipment, including the majority of the players’ sticks and brand new helmets not even worn by the team, was broken into in Batley.

By the time the break-in was noticed the equipment was long gone and, despite appeals through various social media channels, none of it has been seen since.

Fortunately, the Chiefs have been able to buy new sticks in order for today’s game in their temporary home of Blackburn to go ahead (5pm) , but the whole episode has undoubtedly hit preparations, not least seeing their regular Wednesday night practice cancelled as a result of the theft.

“It doesn’t help preparations at all, obviously, but we’ve been through a lot of adversity as a group already this season,” added Zajac. “We’re trying to look at it in a light-hearted way and the attitude is ‘what else could possibly go wrong?’

“The players have taken it well, considering - they realise it is just something that unfortunately happens.”

The Chiefs head into their only game of the weekend knowing a win or an overtime loss could lift them off the bottom of the standings, providing Romford-based Raiders IHC take nothing from their double-header against leaders Telford Tigers.

Hull Pirates' player-coach, Jason Hewitt. Picture courtesy of Lois Tomlinson.

The Chiefs are currently four points off the top eight playoff spots but, with more than two-thirds of the season to go, Zajac is not concerned.

“I’ve got full faith in our team - we’ve got a really good group here,” he insisted. “I wouldn’t say that we’re treading water, but as soon as we do get in our rink it’s going to be a big bonus for us.

“We’ve just got to keep chipping away and make sure we keep picking up points while we’re on the road - that will then put us in a good position moving forwards once we get into Elland Road.”