Austerberry's Assessment: It's semi-final time!
The Saracens Women Head Coach is in fine spirits with the semi-final against Loughborough Lightning now on the radar, and gave an update on how they are preparing for their biggest game of the season.
Firstly, with the Six Nations now over it’s great to have everyone back in Saracens kit, but we were delighted with the quality on show from our players during the tournament.
To see Poppy Cleall getting the Player of the Tournament Award was testament to where her game is going and we’re all really happy for her. One of the things we’ve challenged Poppy to be is consistent and in big tournaments, in big games her attributes came to the fore. We’re looking forward to her bringing that back to the club for the business end of the season!
On the whole obviously it was a different format to normal, but it was brilliant to see so many Saracens representing their countries. It’s a big pat on the back for the club and there’s no doubt that it will stand us in good stead, with them all getting experience and needing that mentality to perform on the big occasion.
Moving on to the Worcester game last weekend, it was a tough battle and the conditions were challenging. The biggest positive is the defensive effort, to keep a clean sheet is brilliant against a very good side, but we’ll need to learn from our ill-discipline and put it right before we face Loughborough in the semi-final.
Some of the decision making at the breakdown is costing us in terms of yellow cards, but ultimately we found a way to win and that was very pleasing.
One thing that we can’t wait for about this semi-final on 22nd May is the fact that our fans will be back in the stands. When we run out to that roar it’s something that gets the hairs on the back of your neck staining up and makes a huge difference.
We’ve missed them all massively so to have them back for the biggest game of the season is huge and we’ll be looking to put on a show and inspire them with some great rugby.
We’ve been fortunate to have had some big game experience in the past few years and have a real understanding of the occasion, but it’s important for us to make that experience count and help shape those big moments to go in our favour.
Looking back on the campaign as a whole with the regular season now over, for the players and staff it’s been so challenging in so many ways. There have been the new laws introduced that we’ve had to adapt to and all of the COVID related disruptions, but we’ve kept focused and shown unbelievable character.
I’m incredibly proud of everyone involved. To finish with 79 points gives me great pride and it has taken more that just talent to get through this season.
With last season being cut short, it feels a bit like redemption this year as we want to get out there and finish the job. Let’s hope that with your support we can make it through to the final which would be another step forward for this group.
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