Walker strolls through class debut

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The Independent Online

The Australian Ben Walker made an impressive start to his Leeds Rhinos career by scoring 24 points as his new side strolled to a 56-12 friendly win over Castleford yesterday.

The former Brisbane Broncos and Northern Eagles stand-off, the leading scorer in Australia's National Rugby League last season who was signed to fill the boots of Iestyn Harris, scored two sparkling tries and kicked eight goals from 10 attempts.

Walker, playing his first match for three months, looked a class act from the moment he split the visitors' defence with a side-step on seven minutes to get his fellow newcomer, Matt Adamson, over for the first of 10 tries.

"It was a great hit-out for us," a delighted Leeds coach, Daryl Powell, said. "I thought there were some great individual performances and collectively we were good. We dropped off a bit in the second half, but still scored enough points to show we will be a good team this year."

Workington missed going top of the Northern Ford Premiership when they let slip a 14-8 half-time lead to lose 28-14 at their Cumbrian neighbours, Whitehaven, in the only League match to beat the freeze.

Town were on course to maintain their 100 per cent record when tries from the Whitehaven old boys Graeme Lewthwaite (2) and Alan Bone, one of them converted by Kevin Hetherington, enabled them to establish a six-point interval lead. But a terrific second-half comeback earned Whitehaven the spoils in a typically-rugged derby in front of a crowd of 3,690.

David Seeds scored two tries and Wesley Wilson, Aaron Lester and Paul O'Neill also touched down as Paul Cullen's men leapfrogged their neighbours into fourth in the table.

The Boxing Day games at Featherstone, Batley, Hunslet, Keighley and Swinton were all postponed because of frozen pitches while Hull KR's friendly with the Super League club Hull – the first Hull derby for four years – also fell victim to the freeze. Featherstone have rearranged their game against Huddersfield for tonight.

* St Helens have re-signed Sonny Nickle from Barrow Raiders. The 32-year-old former Great Britain forward joined Barrow last month but has not played for the club as he is under suspension. The Barrow chairman, Alan Tucker, said: "We had a gentleman's agreement with St Helens that if they and the player wanted a return to St Helens in the future we would not stand in their way."