Leicester scrum-half Ben White saluted the work of the Tigers pack as they pushed reigning Gallagher Premiership champions Saracens all the way in Round 13.
Tigers’ heavyweight eight were front and centre at Allianz Park, going toe-to-toe with the home side until a yellow card for full-back Telusa Veainu proved the difference between the two sides.
And White, who scored his fifth try of the season after a break out from tighthead prop Joe Heyes and second-row colleague Will Spencer, paid tribute to the work of the heavy men.
“Those front three, that front five – in fact, the whole pack – put in a hell of a shift,” he said.
“Even the subs who came off the bench; it’s credit to [all] of them how well our scrum and our lineout went.
“We competed across all regards; maul, scrum, rucks, physicality, kicking game – we were in it for a large part of the match, but it’s a couple of small moments.
“The forwards were physical, really dominant, and we were competing with Saracens for a large part of the game, but you slip off for 10 or 15 minutes against a team like that and they capitalise, which is frustrating from our perspective.
“We have to learn to manage those situations better and we’ll be stronger for it.”
The 21-year-old identified a key moment in defence ahead of half-time that ensured Geordan Murphy’s men went into the break just a point behind despite losing fly-half Johnny McPhillips to an early injury on the artificial surface.
White continued: “[The pack] were physical from the get-go, and I think it showed in the set before the end of the first half.
“Saracens had an attacking lineout and the boys not only matched them physically but marched them back. We need to do that for 80 minutes.
“We need to take the learnings from that period, and make sure we’re growing and doing it for a longer period of time.”
And, with a week’s break in the fixture list before a Round 14 trip to Exeter Chiefs, the scrum-half admitted the squad have already identified the areas to improve.
“The result obviously stings,” he added. “We’re Leicester Tigers, and we should be getting more results than we have been.
“We want to get results on the road as well as at home, but there are [still] parts of the game that you have to be happy with.
“You have to reflect and say ‘that’s good’, but also recognise the key moments where we weren’t good enough and need to develop.
“That’s how we’ll get back to where we should be, and that’s what we all want to do.”