FIT-AGAIN full-back Jack Walker believes Leeds Rhinos will be a force to reckon with again once they learn how to close out games from a winning lead.
Rhinos have figured in a series of close matches this year and last week’s Challenge Cup sixth-round victory at Widnes Vikings followed a familiar pattern.
We just need to work on keeping our foot down and going on and scoring more. When you get the momentum it’s hard to defend against.Jack Walker
The 2014 and 2015 Cup winners built a 23-4 lead early in the second half, but then allowed Widnes back into the game before hanging on for a tense three-point success.
They had lost after being ahead in the closing stages of recent games against Wigan Warriors, Hull and Warrington Wolves and were hanging on at the end in wins over Wakefield Trinity and Hull KR.
The Cup tie was Rhinos’ first victory at Halton Stadium since 2014, ending a run of four successive defeats there, and Walker was among their most impressive players on his return from an ankle injury.
“A win’s a win,” reflected the 18-year-old, who was a member of last year’s Grand Final-winning team.
“We hadn’t won there for a while and that was a big focus going into the game. We will take a lot of positives out of it, but also we’ve got a fair few things to work on.
“We get the momentum and we go on and score a fair few tries, then we take the foot off the gas.
“We just need to work on keeping our foot down and going on and scoring more. When you get the momentum it’s hard to defend against.”
Rhinos will face a huge test on Saturday when they take on Castleford Tigers at Newcastle’s St James’s Park in the final game of the opening day of the Betfred Super League Magic Weekend.
“This will be my first one, I am really excited,” said Walker. “Obviously it’s another big occasion and I can’t wait. I am excited to get all these big occasions under my belt.”
Walker played the full game against Widnes at full-back, with Ashton Golding being moved to the left-wing in place of shoulder injury victim Ryan Hall.
He had missed the previous six first-team matches, but came through unscathed and confirmed: “My ankle pulled through good. It was good to get the minutes under my belt, now I can push on for the Magic Weekend.”
Of his performance, he added: “I thought I was a bit rusty, to be fair. There’s still a lot of things to work on. There were a good few things I got right that I’ve been working on, so I thought it went all right. It wasn’t as good as I can be, I know that, but it was a decent performance.”
Rhinos will be without forward Carl Ablett for Saturday’s game after he damaged an ankle against Widnes.