MATCH REACTION | Alex Austerberry (PWR - Rd7)
Director of Rugby Alex Austerberry praised his side’s ability to play in the right areas, as they kicked off 2024 with a stunning display away at Sale.
Saracens scored 11 tries in total, with Austerberry praising his pack for putting his side in the right areas.
“It was tough going in the first half. We had to earn the right to play in that one. The pitch looked brilliant but was very wet underfoot. We found a way to tighten things up, be more direct and then manage the areas that we were playing in. That gave us the rewards in the second half, and I thought that to a player, the pack were absolutely outstanding. They gave the backs the foundations to play off of throughout.”
An attritional first-half saw Saracens slowly wear down the Sale defence, before cutting loose in the second half, and Austerberry was delighted with some of the tries his side scored.
“The start of that second half was fantastic. Some of those scores were unbelievable in terms of the execution, the physicality and the ability to keep the ball alive. It was a really positive start to the second half, and we then managed to keep the momentum going for the rest of that second period. This is a tough place to come, and you have to earn your opportunities up here.”
The DoR took the time to credit how clinical his side had been on the day, with his forwards setting the platform for his backline to show what they can do.
“The pack were physical today and showed some really good handling. The speed of support allowed us to keep the ball alive and then the backs were able to sniff out those opportunities. I’m really pleased with how clinical we were and having the finishing ability that we’ve got, particularly in our back three meant that we made the most of those platforms that we’d given ourselves.”
Canadian international also made her debut for the club, scoring from close-range after coming off the bench and Austerberry was thrilled to see the impact that she made on the game, having returned from injury.
“McKinley had a bit of a disappointing start to life at Sarries picking up a calf strain. But she’s just a good person and a very good player and she’s worked really hard to get back out on the pitch. She’s physical, she works hard and when she got her hands on the ball near the line, you knew what was going to come next. I’m really pleased for her that she’s been able to make her debut and even more pleased that she was so impactful as well. She’s come in and really hit the ground running.”
Austerberry highlighted the importance of the whole squad working together and driving standards, as his side look to continue their early season momentum, heading into back-to-back matches against Exeter and Gloucester-Hartpury.
“It’s not just about the 23 out on the pitch. We’ve got a whole squad that are pushing each other every week in training and challenging each other to be the best. That will ultimately make us a better team. We’ve talked about seeing glimpses of the potential, but today we really saw what we’re capable of starting to come to fruition. To hit the ground running in that style after a few weeks off is thanks to the work of everyone, from the players to the backroom staff. It’s a good place to be in, but we know we’ve still got tough challenges in store.”