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Shield win a good building block, says Allen

Tigers’ winning return to Premiership Rugby Shield action was a big boost to the development group, according to both Ant Allen and Sam Lewis.

Development head coach Allen, who saw his side run in a total of six tries at Heywood Road on Monday night, commended the squad’s work rate after the match.

“There’s definitely plenty to be pleased with out there,” he said. “I think we started strongly, which is obviously really positive, especially away from home.

“All 23 lads that got out there on the pitch put in a hell of a shift and looked confident out there.”

“There’s definitely plenty to be pleased with out there.”

Ant Allen

Allen’s squad was a patchwork of development players, injury and loan returnees plus a number of guest players, including eight from Loughborough Students.

The side took three scores in the first half on three visits to the 22, though the coach felt Tigers could have had even more.

He continued: “We were a little bit inaccurate in the first half in dealing with the referee and that cost us a little bit. We spoke about that at half time and managed it really well after the break.

“After that really intense first 10 or 15 minutes in the second half, we got ourselves out and ran away with it at the end.”

Second row Sam Lewis played a key role in the Tigers engine room on Monday night, and took on captaincy of the side when Ross McMillan was replaced by Tatafu Polota-Nau on the 50-minute mark.

“I’m pretty pleased,” Lewis said. “This group haven’t played [a match] together in a while, so we’ve had a lot of time to practice how we want to play, and to see it all come together is really good.”

“We know we can be a really good side.”

Sam Lewis

The 20-year-old forward also managed to get himself onto the scoresheet by latching onto the end of a clinical run of play and crashing over the line for Tigers’ bonus-point try, but he was more impressed with his side’s character in the huge defensive set at the start of the second half.

He continued: “They weren’t too far off us then, but we knew if we could hold them off and get back up the field and score, then that would be the game.

“The first score in the second half was a massive momentum swing, and the boys did really well. I just happened to be on the end of a good bit of play – I just crashed it over the line.”

The side now have a five-day turnaround before they meet Wasps at Broadstreet Rugby Club this Saturday, March 30 (2.00pm), and Lewis explained the team can use Monday’s performance as a confidence-builder ahead of the derby clash.

“We can definitely take the positives of how we want to play,” he said. “We want to play a fast and free game, and if we can cut down on some little errors then we know we can be a really good side and should be in good shape for Saturday.”