Austerberry delighted after strong start for Saracens Women
Head Coach Alex Austerberry praised his players’ attacking output in Saracens’ 38-7 win over Loughborough Lightning.
The Women in Black displayed a masterclass of attacking rugby in the first half against Loughborough, running in four tries courtesy of Lotte Clapp, Zoe Harrison, Sarah McKenna, and Marlie Packer.
He said: “The first 30 minutes I thought we were outstanding. High energy, lots of positive outcomes from everything that we were doing, then Loughborough found a way back into the game and the second half just became a little bit about grit.
“I think (it is) probably some of the best rugby we’ve played all season in that first half and now the challenge is to keep backing that up and improving from that. That has to be our benchmark going forward.”
After an explosive first half, the second half was timid in comparison. A mix of Loughborough upping their game and Saracens’ own errors meant that the home side couldn’t slice through the opposition defence in the same fashion as the opening 40 minutes,
“ I just think our execution, not just at set pieces (but) in other areas just fell off and then we started almost chasing it and forcing things that didn’t need to be there, we just needed to gain a bit of control, get territory again.” Said Austerberry.
He added: “The set piece we’ll go and look at, but there’s also other areas in terms of our ball retention and decision making in and around the contact, we’ve probably got to be a bit smarter and understand in the moment what is required. “
Despite being unable to replicate their first half success, Austerberry was pleased that his side still managed to score twice through Donna Rose and Harrison late in the game, as well as denying Loughborough any tries of their own.
“To get two scores at the end was probably off the hard work in D (defence), so its good to get those. But I think the most pleasing thing about the second half is the defensive and the repeated defensive efforts.”
The win also marked Poppy Cleall’s 100th appearance in a Saracens’ jersey, and Austerberry didn’t hesitate to heap praise on the number eight.
“She’s an outstanding player. The way that her game has grown and developed is driving our rugby forward. That’s the benchmark.
“The exciting thing is there’s still more to come. She’s got the power, she’s got the subtlety in offloading, got a great rugby brain. I look forward to celebrating another milestone with her and the other players.”
Written by Rhys Jones.