The Coach’s View: Alex Austerberry
It was massively pleasing to get a good result against Exeter Chiefs Women.
The second-half is what a lot of people are focusing on because we scored 24 unanswered points and came back from an 11-point deficit but the first 15 minutes was pretty good too.
We laid a platform, we managed territory well and we were intelligent in terms of picking up the points and then we made it pretty difficult for ourselves, we started losing collisions which we knew would be a big part of the game.
That started causing a few discipline issues around rolling away at the breakdown and then two yellow cards put us in a bit of a dark place but if you’re going to win a game coming back from that sort of adversity, it adds a little bit too it.
Ultimately, the second-half wasn’t a complete performance but it was a very good performance where the detail, the energy and the execution was pretty high.
“The best way to back up that tough hard-fought win is to do it again against Harlequins”
As a group we were really happy with it and certainly happy to get the result in those circumstances against a team that’s vying for play-offs, a team that had beaten us at their place and I think we gave a really good account of ourselves.
They tested us in a lot of ways. There was something like 320 total tackles in the game which is a massive increase on what we’d normally be at and we saw a real uplift in the quality of those collisions.
So we were certainly tested physically and there were times where we bent a little, didn’t quite fully break and found a way to get a foothold back and get momentum back.
I think the game management, which we got beaten on at their place, we took control of that and did very well there.
There were a few psychological tests too. This was a team that beat us and how could we get back to our level and execute our standard against them. We did that pretty well.
The best way to back up that tough hard-fought win is to do it again against Harlequins. We know we’ve secured play-offs and although it’s not a play-off game, it is a play-off game in terms of our preparation and what it means.
We can keep control of our own destiny if we’re successful, if not we make it a lot tighter and it will be a fight to the bitter end, both in the game and with the season.
It’s great to have another opportunity against a team that are very good and see if we can back up performances.
Last week it was can we get to a level of performance that reflects where we want to be and who we want to be and this week it’s can we back that up, make the small improvements and be the side that backs up a good performance with a better performance.
Harlequins Women are still a very good team, they sit second in the league for a reason. Their set-piece which has always been a strength has had to evolve given the regulations now but it’s still a real weapon for them.
They’ve got a very strong pack, are very physical, it will be another battle and it will be one that will go down to the wire. We know the last few games against them, it’s been small margins that wins the game so I don’t expect anything different.
Don’t forget you can live stream the Saracens Women vs Harlequins Women game this weekend (Saturday 27th March, KO 2pm).