PRESS NOTES | Alex Austerberry (PWR Rd-2)
Ahead of Saturday’s first league encounter with Trailfinders Women, Director of Rugby Alex Austerberry spoke to the press about the development of his side in the early stages of the season.
Reflecting on last weekend’s victory over Loughborough Lightning, the DoR was particularly pleased with the defensive strength shown by his side, as they continued their good form from the Allianz Cup.
“It’s always difficult to integrate in a lot of people who haven’t been with you for most of pre-season. To hit the ground running with a performance like that was a real display of character. We were under the pump in the first ten minutes, but our defensive display was absolutely fantastic. It’s not just Saturday’s game, the cup run was brilliant as well and we’ve given ourselves a really good platform to build from.”
Canadian captain Sophie de Goede picked up the Player of the Match award and Austerberry was quick to highlight her impact on the group.
“She was fantastic in her first spell, and she’s shown her quality in the last couple of years. We’re excited to have her back. She’s the same as so many of the players in this group; she’s a brilliant player but she wants to get better. That’s a real driving force for us this season. If everyone is pushing each other, you can get to some special heights.”
The other standout from the opening day was the performance of teenage fly-half Amelia MacDougall. A product of the Oakland College Pathway, Austerberry heaped praise on the talented youngster and the staff involved in the pathway.
“Credit to Niamh McHugh, Lewis Sones and everyone with one our pathway. Amelia deserves a lot of credit too. She’s established herself really quickly in a tough group. She performed really well in the cup and then picked up a little hip issue. But she bounced back from that and to step in for a league debut at home against an opposition like Loughborough was superb. There’s places for her to grow and learn, but to play like she did is a real testament to her ability and her character. It’s only the start of her journey and there’s so much more to come. For an 18-year-old to come in and play like that is superb. We’ve had Chloe Flanagan come in and prove herself this season too. To see your young players make that step up and show what they can do so quickly is so exciting.”
Trailfinders may be a new team this season, but they’ve already shown they can match it with the best. They ran Harlequins close in last weekend’s opening round and put Saracens under significant pressure in the cup a few weeks ago too. Austerberry took the time to credit their development in a short period of time and admitted that he was relishing being part of a new London Derby this weekend.
“There’s one thing you can always say about Giselle Mather and that is that she will always get a team competitive from the off. Fair credit to them, they’ve had a few months to pull together a very talented group of players who understand the landscape of the league. We’ve seen that they will be competitive second-hand but also first-hand from the cup match we played there. I’ve got no doubt that they will be looking to reach the highest of heights. It’s a new London Derby, but the quality they have is there for all to see.”