Leeds are entering last-chance saloon admits Blackett

OUTSIDERS may view Leeds Carnegie’s trip to Newcastle Falcons next weekend as a relegation decider, but for Lee Blackett, failure to defeat Exeter on Sunday will render that trip to the North East insignificant.

For Blackett is labelling the visit of the Chiefs as Leeds’s ‘last-chance saloon’ given that a defeat for the Yorkshire club would leave them still requiring not only a win at Kingston Park next weekend, but at least another victory in the subsequent three games to leapfrog the Falcons.

Even then, Leeds’s survival would only be assured if Newcastle were to fail to win any of their closing six games. Hence the long-serving winger’s belief that nothing short of victory will suffice at Headingley on Sunday.

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“We’ve got to see this weekend as last-chance saloon,” said the 28-year-old, who has made 82 appearances in five seasons with the club.

“We have to get four points minimum, if we don’t we’re in a lot of trouble. We need to narrow the gap on Newcastle going into that game.

“It wasn’t a bad performance at Sale but at this time of year we can’t be looking at performances. Even if we play really badly, I don’t care, so long as get the win.”

Encouragingly, Leeds have scored six tries in their last three games, a relative purple patch for a side that often struggles to cross the whitewash.

Blackett has failed to get in on the act himself, but acknowledges it is a good time for the backs to be finding a rhythm.

“It’s probably down to confidence, as much as anything,” said Blackett, who has scored only two Premiership tries this season.

“Maybe the shackles have been lifted and we feel we can play with a bit more freedom.

“Hopefully, it isn’t too late, but we thoroughly believe if we get the four points this weekend we can get ourselves out of this hole.

“I got five in three games earlier in the season. Then it’s been a fair stint since I got one.

“I tried at Sale to push Michael Stephenson out of the way but (Henry) Fa’afili got over the line instead. I was hoping he’d need one more pass.

“Seriously, I’d love a try. When you get to the line you start getting excited so, hopefully, I can get one this weekend.”

Sale Sharks prop Karena Wihongi has received a four-month ban after testing positive for a banned stimulant.

Wihongi, 31, had been provisionally suspended by the Rugby Football Union on January 28 after a positive test for the stimulant methylhexaneamine following a Premiership game at Newcastle. He has now been banned until May 27.