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Smith encourages players to draw on Sevens experience

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Leicester Tigers 7s head coach Matt Smith says his side have plenty of ‘transferable skills’ to take away after a dramatic quarter-final at Franklin’s Gardens.

“We really challenged the lads today.”

Matt Smith

A young Tigers side were drawn against tournament favourites Wasps and Bath Rugby in Pool B, and following an evening of mixed fortunes on Friday – with a 43-point loss to Wasps before a bonus-point win over Bath – set up a re-match against the men from Coventry in Saturday’s Cup quarter-final.

Tigers pulled a score ahead at one stage before Wasps’ 7s experience showed, clinging on through a late fightback from Smith’s players.

“My reaction is pretty mixed,” he said. “We’re pleased with how far we’ve come as a group, from losing by 40 points to Wasps last night to where we ended up today.

“We really challenged the lads today, and they gave us a lot of positives. A lot of them outplayed some seasoned Premeirship players, and in our squad only Freddie Steward has played a minute of Premiership Rugby.

“You compare that to Wasps – who have probably got hundreds of games of Premiership experience – it’s a massive positive from that point of view, but then again it’s still disappointing because we were so close.”

Tries from development players Jonny Law, Freddie Steward and Joe Browning as well as guest 7s specialist Toby Smith put Tigers in contention in the quarter-final, but an extra pair of conversions nudged the top seeds into the next knockout round.

Despite the result, Smith explained his players can draw on the experience of their 7s outing when they get going in the extended game later this season.

“Most of these boys haven’t played 7s for years and years, and it’s a very different game,” he added.

“This morning we challenged them to almost play the game more as a 15s game, because there are plenty of transferable skills that they can take away from that.

“Quality of pass plus one-on-one tackles and communication are a couple of the key areas that we talked about, as well as just working hard for your mates, and I think every single one of them did that today.”