MATCH REACTION | ALEX AUSTERBERRY
Director of Rugby Alex Austerberry admitted that he was left frustrated, as his side suffered their first league defeat of the season against Harlequins.
Having built a 10-point lead, Saracens were rocked by two quickfire scores from the hosts and were unable to wrestle momentum back in the second half.
“We’d done some good things in that opening thirty minutes and got a foothold in the game. We were starting to build a decent lead and then we gave it away relatively quickly,” he explained. “You look at the period at thirty minutes where we conceded a penalty try on our third infringement, it was a bit tough. Then we conceded a really soft try straight away and that was a really big swing.”
In the second half, Saracens continued to look for opportunities but came up against a stern Harlequins defence that refused to give an inch. Austerberry credited the efforts of the home side and admitted that pressure may have played a part in some of the outcomes on the field.
“In the second half, we just couldn’t retain possession in any way that would make it a struggle for them to defend. Pressure of the game played a part and Quins defended well. There are some things that we will have a look at and see if we can tighten up.”
Austerberry noted that his side had been “unlucky at times with some of the decisions that went against [us]” but also stressed that that was the nature of the sport, admitting that on the day, his side were second best to Harlequins.
“Ultimately, on the day we weren’t good enough to execute opportunities when they came our way. Before we look externally, we need to look internally and try and fix that. Quins defended better than we did.”
Next week, the side return to StoneX Stadium to face Gloucester-Hartpury. Austerberry was adamant that the next fixture coming so soon would only be a benefit for his side and challenged his players to put a performance out on the field that represents who they are as a group.
“We’re disappointed about today but that’s the good thing about rugby is that there is another game the next week. There will be a few sore bodies, but we freshen the minds, sharpen up and go again in front of a home crowd. We want to put on a performance that reflects who we are and where we want to be.”