MATCH REACTION | Alex Austerberry
Director of Rugby Alex Austerberry was left to reflect on “a tough day at the office,” as his side suffered a heavy defeat to Gloucester-Hartpury.
“We got taught quite a lot of lessons. The season isn’t one this early or on days like today. What we will have is quite a lot of lessons from today. Once you back that up with the lessons from last week, there are some tough lessons to learn, but I’m sure we will do. Fair play to Gloucester, they played very well, but if you aren’t making your tackles, it’s going to be tough.”
The visitors came racing out of the blocks and didn’t let up, as they scored nine tries in all. With a sickness bug in the camp, Saracens were forced into a late tactical change, with Sarah McKenna ruled out. Austerberry though, refused to blame outside factors for the result and the performance of his side.
“I’m not going to make excuses, Gloucester-Hartpury were better than us and they deservedly won. You can look for excuses but ultimately it means you’ve fallen short somewhere else, so that’s the message we need to instil into ourselves. The review starts already. There are some players there who really stood up. Louise McMillan was pretty much on death’s door and still put a performance in.”
After back-to-back defeats, the pressure is on going into the last match before Christmas against Sale Sharks next weekend. The Sharks suffered their first defeat of the season at the weekend against Harlequins. Austerberry is refusing to put any pressure on the match, instead choosing to focus on the bigger picture at this stage of the season.
“Two losses on the bounce is unusual for us but we need to grab hold of our own season now and make sure that we win as many games as we can. But that’s no different to every other year. Every game is a must-win. We’re in the wrong business if we’re not looking to win games. Sale have had a very good start to the season. We can’t hide from the fact that we’ll have additional players available next week, but we need to work to integrate them.”
Austerberry did admit though that the would be “some harsh truths” within the camp this week, as his side look to bounce back immediately up north.
“The reason we’ve been as successful as we have been is that we don’t hide away and avoid difficult conversations. This week, we’ll look at the footage. Let’s be fair, it isn’t going to be the nicest footage to watch but we need to be honest with ourselves. Nothing is fatal right now, but what is fatal is failing to learn from this. We need to start taking control of our own destiny.”