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Kalamafoni aims to maintain momentum

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Sione Kalamafoni says Leicester Tigers are determined to maintain the momentum that has taken them to three successive Aviva Premiership victories.

Kalamafoni was named the Aviva Man of the Match for his performance in the 20-13 victory over Exeter Chiefs at Welford Road on Saturday that lifted Tigers into the top half of the table for the first time this season.

But Kalamafoni was quick to praise the contribution of his Tigers teammates.

The Tonga international back-rower said: “It is a team effort and we said throughout the week that we have to step it up another notch to beat the reigning champions, so I’m happy we got the win.

 “The last few games we’ve tried to build momentum and the win will add to this so, hopefully, we can keep this going.

“We kept to our gameplan and the things we work on with the coaches throughout the week. The physicality and mental toughness of the boys was there and we got the win.”

The Aviva Man of the Match award is backed up by an impressive set of Opta Rugby Rankings, which show that Kalamafoni made the most carries across Round 5 of the Aviva Premiership with 21. He also made the fourth-highest number of tackles (20), won two turnovers and made 77 metres in the game.

And head coach Matt O’Connor says it was the latest in a series of impressive games since his summer move from Gloucester Rugby.

“Sione has been brilliant all season,” said O’Connor. “The numbers he is logging and the minutes he has played have been enormous for us.

“He has made a real difference to us in that back row. His leadership is fantastic and he doesn’t make errors. He is a class act.”