The Coach’s View: Alex Austerberry’s Loughborough reaction
Saturday was a very important game against a top four rival. The matches against Loughborough are always tight as we have a very contrasting style of play, so looking back on it we have to consider it as a very good win.
At the start we were second best and they were winning the collisions and breakdown, if we’re honest we were probably fortunate to be just seven points down. Once we got a foothold in the game and those three scores came before half time that was a massive shift in momentum and was very positive.
Immediately after half time we were forced to defend and after they had made a line break we held firm and then intercepted which really gave us the breathing space needed and showed the kind of work rate that we expect.
It was a bit of a chaotic game towards the end with a series of penalties and it felt a bit like basketball, so moving forward we just need to find a way of controlling the game earlier.
In our review we said how pleased we were with the character shown against a very good side. Also the personnel involved was different with some internationals away so it really showed the depth we have in our squad.
We now know that we will be playing Loughborough in the play-offs in a rematch of Saturday, so that will give us the chance to take a lot of learnings from that game and make sure that we are better for when we meet in five weeks time.
To finish top of the league is a fantastic achievement and shouldn’t be overlooked.
Sometimes with play-offs these days you lose sight of how special that is, and we have taken time to celebrate and absorb it as it has been a really challenging year for everyone.
It takes quality all across the pitch to finish top, but now we have parked it and that is only part of what we want to achieve. The next bit is the play offs and that is what our season will be defined by so that is very much on our horizon and we’ll stay grounded as we prepare for them.
Worcester are next up in our last regular season match, and it’s also the first game that we’ll have everyone back from the Six Nations so it’s a chance for them to all reintegrate effectively. We played Worcester in the first game of the season and it was a very hard fought win so this should give us the ideal preparation for the semi-final.
We want to finish the league in style against a team that really pushed us last time so we won’t underestimate them and go in to this with pressure on ourselves to perform.
Of course we’re missing the crowds, the support that we get is so vocal and passionate which makes such a difference. To get that semi final at StoneX Stadium with the home comforts is great, and of course we’re hoping by then that we may have fans back in the ground.
If that’s the case the occasion would feel even better and it would be brilliant to reunite in person. Hopefully we will be able to put on a show, and you can inspire us during what is an enormous game!