MATCH REACTION | Alex Austerberry (PWR Rd-1)
Director of Rugby Alex Austerberry was delighted, as his side put in an impressive display to secure a 48-7 opening day victory against Loughborough Lightning.
Roared on by a crowd of over 1100 at StoneX, Sarries weathered the Lightning storm, before pushing the accelerator themselves. Austerberry admitted that there was a lot of pride in how his team had performed.
“The scoreline reflected the good play we put in but that shouldn’t take away from what Loughborough put in. There were some big battles and some key moments on our line where we stood up and then some real tough defence. There was some really clinical attacking moments too. That was a tough game, but I’m pleased with how we’ve come out on top. There’s a lot of pride in that one.”
A number of players were making their first appearances for Saracens, with Canadian captain Sophie de Goede bagging a brace on her return to the club. With plenty of tough selection calls ahead this season, Austerberry admitted that he was impressed with how many of his new combinations had worked.
“The really pleasing thing for me was how the combinations clicked in so well, despite not having much time together. That’s testament to the coaching staff and the players too. There’s a real quality throughout the side this season and so much strength in depth. There are players who are still to come back from injury and players who didn’t make the squad this week that are snapping at the heels of those who did, which is exactly what we want. Our success this season is going to be based on the strength of the squad. Today was really impressive and I’m sure when others come in, they’ll really take their opportunities.”
Despite the scoreline, discipline was a problem for Saracens, as they picked up three yellow cards in the match.
Austerberry accepted that his side deserved their cards and challenged his team to see the bigger picture when managing their discipline.
“The calls from the referee were completely right. We need to learn with our discipline. We lost a semi-final last season with three yellow cards, and we’ve had the same amount in this game. We need to be brighter and see the bigger picture. We can’t make bad decisions consecutively when we’re under pressure and that’s something we’ll really learn from with today. I thought though. that we corrected that in the second-half. We need to get on an even keel and then look to go from there.”
Despite having large periods with a player disadvantage, Saracens continued to impress in defence, with Austerberry putting the praise firmly on new forwards and defence coach Mo Botha, for how sharp his side looked when repelling the Lightning attack.
“There’s a real credit to Mo and the coaching staff for that defence today. Our wide players were really getting off the line and the line-speed from the likes of Rosie Galligan when she came onto the pitch was brilliant too. We want to be really suffocating with our defence this season and I’m really proud to have kept an attacking team like Loughborough to 7 points. It’s been a great start to the season, but nothing is won in week one.”