Austerberry’s Assessment | Table-toppers in fine form
Past meetings between Saracens and Loughborough Lightning have always been close affairs, and Saturday’s fixture was no different.
The affair was as tough as the weather was cold, but Saracens triumphed over both, solidifying their spot at the table of the Allianz Premier 15s table.
Head coach Alex Austerberry took time after the game to reflect on the 80 minutes which had just gone by.
“It was a tough encounter. Coming to Loughborough against a high-quality side, it’s gonna be difficult. The score-lines over the last 3-4 years tell you how tight it is, so to come away with a bonus point, I’m really, really happy.
“There were lots of very good things. In the first half there was some outstanding rugby, but that end product kind of broke down. A couple of time that final pass which looked like it was gonna be the one that put us over the line. It wasn’t a case of a poor performance, there were some really good bits, it’s just making sure that the hard work that’s underpinning things is then finished off with something off value rather than it being a knock on or giving away a penalty.”
A first half surge of three tries for Saracens signalled their potential dominance of the game, but Loughborough made Sarries work for the win, particularly in the five minutes before half-time, which saw the side concede 12 points and a yellow card for Poppy Cleall. Austerberry said:
“I’m not disappointed with the performance by any stretch, I thought we did lots of good things. It’s just making sure, against high quality sides, we don’t give them second chances, because they’ll take their opportunity, just like they did before half time. We need to ensure we’re just a little bit more clinical at key times”.
A key part of this Saracens squad is the depth within it, and against Lighting the quality of those coming off the bench was on full display. Alev Kelter, a United States international who has also witnessed success with their Sevens team, was amongst those who impressed.
“We brought her to the club to add something additional to the group that we’ve got, but I thought that all the players that come off the bench made an impact. Alex Ellis came on and made some real big carries, some real big hits”.
Alex added: “That strength in depth across the group is fundamental to what we’re trying to achieve, its driving people to be better and it’s giving us the ability to continue and drive so that there’s not a lull in what we’re doing. Alev did well, Alex Ellis did well. I’m excited to have them as part of the group.”
Saracens’ postponed match against Sale Sharks will now take place next Saturday at the Corpacq Stadium, with the league leaders looking to further cement their place on top of the hill.
Written by Rhys Jones.