Tigers Academy back row Henri Lavin is loving the step up from age-grade rugby to the Premiership Shield.
The 18-year-old made his fifth second-string appearance of the season when he lined up alongside fellow Academy graduates Tommy Reffell and Fred Tuilagi on Monday night, and played a key role as the side powered past Sale Jets for the second time in three weeks.
Lavin admitted the result put Tigers’ development squad back on track after coming up against a strong Wasps side last weekend.
“The boys started really well, especially compared to last week against Wasps,” he said. “I could feel it from the warm up; the energy and the buzz was there and it felt a lot better getting out there.
“Tommy and Fred put in a real shift, and it’s nice to be playing with them.”
Three first-half tries put Tigers 21-17 up at the break, and 17 unanswered points in the second period – before a late Jets consolation score at the death – saw the young side win 38-24 in their first home fixture since December 2018.
And Lavin paid tribute to the hunger showed by a matchday squad which featured 12 players who have risen through the ranks of the Tigers Academy, as well as new injury cover full-back Clayton Blommetjies.
“There was energy throughout the game,” Lavin added. “The boys that came off the bench and the lads that have stepped in from loan clubs all put in a really good effort, and they helped drive us through to finish the game.”
The young Tigers side spent most of the first quarter of the game deep in Sale territory, as they looked to capitalise through their strong pack.
Lavin explained: “We were down there for about 15 minutes, just trying to get as many scrum penalties and mauls going as we could, and we eventually go the pay our from it, which was good.
“We just kept building on it from there, and held some good pressure on them.”
The back rower was also full of praise for three Tiger cubs who featured off the bench in the Shield game on the same day they were named in England’s Under-18 squad for the Six Nations Festival later this month.
“It was nice to see Joe [Browning], Jack [van Poortvliet] and George [Martin] come through and play in this competition,” Lavin said.
“I was in their position just a year ago, and they all did really well.
“They really expressed themselves and are showing what they can do for next season.”