MATCH REACTION | Alex Austerberry (AC Rd 5)
Director of Rugby Alex Austerberry was left somewhat relieved, as his side held on to secure top spot in Allianz Cup Pool B with victory over Gloucester-Hartpury.
Despite holding a sizable advantage at one stage, Saracens had to be on their guard at the death, as the visitors hit back. Austerberry was pleased with much of what he say, but challenged his side to close out matches in a calmer manner.
“We did some really good bits at times. Gloucester-Hartpury are a very good side, but we allowed them back in. Looking back at the last fifteen minutes will be about learning how we can close games out, especially when you’re playing good sides, like we did, because they never go away. Ultimately, a five-point win and finishing top of the group was the outcome we wanted from today and we managed to get it. It’s a great end to the cup block and I’m really proud of the team. I’m pleased with how we’ve developed from round one to now.”
Reflecting on the cup period, Austerberry was pleased with the growth he’d seen from his side.
“There have been some really tight moments in games throughout the cup and we’ve come up with key plays at key moments to see us through when it’s mattered. There’s been so much growth in the group, from both the youngsters we’ve got and the more experienced players.”
He did though, reserve special praise for the performances of the youngsters in the squad, as they showed that they are part of the present and the future for the club.
“For us, it’s unbelievably pleasing to see how well our youngsters have done. It stands us in good stead for when the league starts in a few weeks, but also for the years to come. They’ve had a great period of exposure to this level over the last month and this will really act as a springboard to allow them to kick on in the future. For us to have the quality and the depth in the squad massive. It’s going to allow us to challenge on all the fronts we want to this season.”
On a day of landmarks, Sonia Green scored on her 330th appearance for the club, as she finished a fine team move. Austerberry paid tribute to the second-row for how she has helped guide the group throughout the cup period.
“I thought Sonic might have wanted to give the ball to the younger legs of Lucy Biggs, but fair play to her! She ran the support line really well and got what she deserved for her performance with that try. She’s been immense for us in this cup block, with her leadership and her ability to bring the youngsters with her.”
The final word though, was reserved for Jeanina Loyola, as the Spanish international capped her 50thappearance for the side with what proved to be the game-winning try.
“I’ve known Jeanina for a very long time. She pops up when you least expect it but always at the important moments and she did that again today. To score a try on her fiftieth appearance was fantastic. I’m so pleased for her. She gave a really heartfelt speech to the group in the changing rooms after the match as well and it’s fitting that she was able to cap off the day in style!”