MATCH REACTION | Alex Austerberry (PWR Rd 9)
Director of Rugby Alex Austerberry praised Gloucester-Hartpury for their performance, as the league champions handed his side a first defeat of the season.
In a heavyweight contest, the Cherry and Whites were more clinical when it counted, with Austerberry admitting that his side weren’t at the races as they have been so far this season.
“Credit to Gloucester. In the bits when we were on top, they managed to hold us up and we didn’t get enough points. Against good teams, you’ve got to take your opportunities and in the second half, they just played better than us. We got on the wrong side of the penalty count, and we need to create better pictures for the officials. That stopped us getting any momentum and even when they went down to 14 players, you have to give them credit because they were brilliant.”
Having fought hard to draw themselves level in the first-half, Saracens were unable to make the pressure count, as Gloucester-Hartpury absorbed the pressure. The DoR though admitted that his side would take a lot of learnings from the performance, with plenty to play for across the rest of the season.
“We didn’t keep enough pressure or quality ball which was ultimately our undoing. It’s a frustrating one and there’s disappointment but we’re only halfway through the season. Leagues aren’t won at this stage of the season and the learnings we will take from this are vital.”
Having been level for most of the first-half, Saracens conceded right on the stroke of half-time, with Austerberry admitting that it was a crucial point in the match.
“We just probably needed to be smarter in certain areas. There was a momentum swing before half-time. We wanted our players to put their bodies on the line but that was a hammer blow.”
Despite a first league defeat of the season, Austerberry refused to panic, explaining that his side will take away the importance of being more clinical in the red zone, as they go into the second half of the season.
“You don’t become a bad team overnight. There were bits in it where we played quite well and bits in it where we’ll look and realise, we needed to be more clinical. We were held up over the line multiple times and you can’t afford to do that. We’ll go away and have a look at that. It’s not like a few years ago where you get a 5m scrum when you’re held up, so we need to be more clinical there.”
When pressed on what his side will look to fix up heading into a run of three home fixtures, Austerberry stressed the importance of refining things, crediting Gloucester for the way they had managed to outplay his side.
“It’s just a case of refining things. We were outplayed by Gloucester, but we move on, look back at it and learn from it. We’re in a relatively healthy position, but Gloucester are champions for a reason. We maybe could have come away with a bit more than we did but we’ll look forward to them coming to our place at the back end of the season.”