‘Sticking to the plan’ was the difference in Leicester Tigers’ win over Rugby Calvisano on Saturday, according to man-of-the-match award winner Sam Lewis.
The 21-year-old earned a first-ever European start in the Challenge Cup clash, and scored his first try in club colours in front of the Welford Road faithful.
But seeing his side stick to the script for the full 80 minutes was the biggest take-away from the Pool 5 win for the Tigers Academy graduate.
“Saturday was a fast game, and it was exactly what we said we wanted to do in the week,” he explained. “There were a few mistakes here and there, but the plan worked, so we’re happy with it.
“Good games of rugby like that are the ones you look forward to, in front of a home crowd.
“All the fitness work in pre-season is paying off, and sticking to the plan and doing what George [Ford] – and Tom [Hardwick], when he came on – told us to do made all the difference.”
👏— Leicester Tigers (@LeicesterTigers) December 7, 2019
What a performance from @SJLewis27 today!
A try and Man of the Match award in his first European start at Welford Road. pic.twitter.com/KL4yeyD2zv
The modest forward was equally grateful to England fly-half Ford for his first score in green, white and red.
He continued: “I just ran straight and the hole opened up! George put it on a plate for me, so he made it really easy for me.”
Tigers now face a trip to Calvisano for the return fixture on back-to-back European weekends, though Lewis hinted the squad will only look to tweak their approach, rather than make sweeping changes to the game plan.
“We’ll focus on us,” he added. “I think we’ll keep the approach more or less the same. We can focus even more on what we’re doing and make sure to execute our plan.
“Every week, we want to win. It doesn’t matter if we lose the previous week or win by 50 points, we always want to win; the result doesn’t really change the outcome.”
And what about packing down in the Leicester engine room? For a second row converted into a flanker – to great effect in Round 2 in Cardiff – Lewis was equally impressive wearing the No4 shirt.
“I’ll just keep doing what the coaches ask me to do, and keep trying my hardest,” he said.
“Second row and back row … they’re the same job really. You just put your head down and push,” he smiled.
Tigers return to Welford Road for their final home fixture of 2019 on Saturday, December 21 (3.00pm) to face Exeter Chiefs in the Gallagher Premiership.
Secure your place in person at Welford Road, on 0116 319 8888 (option 2) or online, using the link below.