Leeds Rhinos: Ashton Golding in no mood to relinquish No 1 shirt

TRY-SAVING full-back Ashton Golding has shrugged off praise of his performance in Leeds Rhinos' defeat at St Helens.

Friday, 10th February 2017, 5:00 pm
Updated Tuesday, 28th February 2017, 11:49 am
Rhinos Rob Burrow after defeat at St helens on his 500th appearance. (Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe)

Rhinos were pipped 6-4 in their Betfred Super League opener, but Golding – playing his first competitive game as Leeds’ No 1 – caught the eye with three try-saving tackles.

It was a dazzling effort from the 20-year-old rookie, making only his 13th start and 19th senior appearance for Leeds, but he insisted his personal satisfaction was overshadowed by the result.

“For me, try-saving is like scoring tries so I’m delighted coming up with a few of them, but I’d always swap a bad performance for a win any day of the week,” said Golding, who admitted donning the No 1 jersey for the first time was an “emotional moment”.

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Rhinos Rob Burrow after defeat at St helens on his 500th appearance. (Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe)

“I’m a fan of the club, advocate of the club and love the club so losing is massively disappointing, but a massive shout-out goes to the fans who travelled over.

“Obviously on a Thursday night the amount that came is outstanding.”

That was how Boss Brian McDermott described Golding’s performance, but the player insisted he has lots of areas to improve on.

“It’s something I’ve been working towards and I’m going to keep working,” he stressed. “It’s one performance out of so many to go and I need to really nail my performances now.

Leeds Rhinos' Aston Golding gets away from Saints Kyle Amor and Joe Greenwood. ( Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe)

“I was nowhere near perfect and I have to keep going with that.”

Golding’s elevation to first-choice full-back surprised some fans and pundits, who feel he is not big enough for the role. Answering that, he said: “I’m always going to put my body on the line and if it takes me coming out with an injury I’ll do it. We don’t want to concede four points. That line is a fortress and everything to us.”

Rhinos led 4-0 at half-time, leaked a converted try soon afterwards and were unable to find another way through a strong Saints defence. Golding felt there was nothing between the sides and had no qualms with the result. He said: “We had a couple of opportunities to run away with the game, then they had a couple, but all were snuffed out and it ended one try apiece.

“It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but we have to deal with it and go back to the drawing board and build on the positives we’ve seen.

Rhinos Rob Burrow after defeat at St helens on his 500th appearance. (Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe)

“In parts we were the stronger team and then they were.

“It just didn’t happen for us, but 6-4 is really close.”

Leeds are back in action next Friday, when they take on Leigh Centurions in the promoted club’s first home Super League game for 12 years.

“We know there’s no chance of it getting any easier versus Leigh,” Golding said. “There’s no dips in this league. Every week will be really challenging. We understand that and are prepared for it.

Leeds Rhinos' Aston Golding gets away from Saints Kyle Amor and Joe Greenwood. ( Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe)

“The intensity (on Thursday) was high and it will stay like that next week.

“No doubt Leigh will bring a whole load of fire towards the game so we’re expecting it and looking forward to it.”