Leeds Carnegie aim to work off the Christmas angst

Lee Blackett says Leeds Carnegie plan to take out their Christmas frustration upon Gloucester after the most testing of festive seasons.

Rock-bottom Carnegie aim to start off the new year with a bang with a landmark victory over the Cherry and Whites at Headingley tomorrow (1pm) – as they attempt to get the winless Aviva Premiership monkey off their backs at the tenth time of asking.

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Neil Back's troops – raring to go after back-to-back Amlin Challenge Cup wins over Crociati – were left kicking their heels in the north-east on Monday after their crunch relegation clash at Newcastle Falcons fell victim to the big freeze after being put back from its original Boxing Day date.

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With a thaw in place, hopes are high that Carnegie will finally take the field in the Premiership for the first time since November 28 tomorrow, with the match the first part of a Headingley double-header with Leeds Rhinos' friendly clash with Wakefield Trinity Wildcats following their game.

And Carnegie are chomping at the bit to play, according to three-quarter Blackett, pictured left.

He said: "We've got to take all that frustration from the Newcastle

game into the Gloucester one.

"We were massively disappointed with the postponement (on Monday). We were coming off the back of two good wins and fully confident we could win against our big rivals at the bottom.

"It's always difficult around Christmas time, as you want to be with your family. Being professional, you must look after yourself, but with a game being called off, you think: 'I could have enjoyed Christmas'.

"After the game was originally called off and put forward to Monday, we

trained on Boxing Day and then had to travel four-and-a-half to five hours on a coach for the game to be off again.

"Newcastle and Sale are the only games in which we travel up on the day. We went up in the (Monday) morning and were having lunch and then heard rumours. I got a text from Rob Vickerman, who said he thought it would be off – after we'd prepared ourselves for it to be on.

"We were then told it was probably going to be off and Andy Key had a look at the ground and we got the message about 12.30pm.

"We'd targeted our next three Premiership games (Newcastle, Gloucester and Bath). With the first two, even if you look from the outside, you'd think we would have a really good chance of getting our first two wins."

After losing in heart-breaking last-gasp fashion in an agonising 22-21 loss at Kingsholm in their second league game of the season, Carnegie have an extra incentive to square the ledger against mid-table Gloucester, according to Blackett, with the West Countrymen having won their last seven top-flight games against Leeds.

Blackett said: "We were bitterly disappointed to lose down there. With the position we were in, we were naive to lose that game with a late penalty.

"Going into this game, we know Gloucester are tough.

"But the lads aren't on bad form at the moment."

Meanwhile, the former Rotherham Titans ace is playing down the

significance of tomorrow's dual-code double-header – with Leeds Rugby chief executive Gary Hetherington targeting a combined crowd of between 12,000 and 15,000.

Blackett added: "To be fair, none of the players have talked about the double header, it doesn't really bother us. For us, it's all about our game. Maybe several thousand will come in when our game has finished (for Rhinos).

"But it will be a good occasion, although we're treating it like any other game."

Yorkshire's Matthew Fisher. Picture: John Mallett

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