Austerberry: Saracens players knew where to improve against Richmond

Saracens Women head coach Alex Austerberry

Saracens Women head coach Alex Austerberry insisted his side didn’t need to be prompted to change their ways after a scrappy first half as they defeated Richmond 42-7.

The visitors went into the break 14-7 up in the rescheduled Tyrrells Premier 15s match after Saracens responded to going behind to Rowena Burnfield’s try with scores from Jodie Rettie and Rocky Clark.

Despite the torrid conditions, in the second half the defending champions came out a much better outfit scoring four tries to put the match to bed.

Alex Ellis, Hannah Botterman, Vicky Fleetwood and Poppy Cleall all crossed over for Saracens to secure a bonus-point win, which sent them to the summit of the table.

At the break Austerberry and his team discussed what needed to change but the head coach stressed his players took the initiative.

“They found the solutions and didn’t need prompting to get there,” he said. “We had the discussion as a group at half-time and we knew that in the first twenty minutes we didn’t match Richmond’s intensity.

“As the first half wore on, we were making silly mistakes and we were playing as if it was bright sunshine and perfect weather.

“It was tough conditions and Richmond deserve a lot of credit because they just kept on defending, but ultimately, in the second half we performed much better.

“We played the conditions much more appropriately, we retained the ball better, made far less errors and as a result we got into the right areas and scored more points.

“We just needed to have that conversation about how we could play a bit smarter.”

Victory ensured Saracens maintained their perfect record this season with 12 wins in the league and they now sit two points ahead of Harlequins in the table.

There are six rounds left of the Premier 15s with the next fixture not taking place until March 21 because of the Women’s Six Nations.

With such a long break, Austerberry knows he will have to manage and prepare his side well despite returning to the top of the pile.

“We’re there at the moment but there’s still a lot of hard work to do,” he added.

“We’ll have a week off because this game being rearranged has had a knock-on effect on how we’ve managed this period.

“We’ve had essentially nine weeks off, so it’s almost like a mini pre-season with next week off going into the final six league games and hopefully two play-off games.”