Saracens head coach Alex Austerberry was proud of the way his side returned to their old mentality as they earned a hard fought 17-14 Tyrells Premier 15s against Bristol Bears.

The league’s top side conceded 28 points in each of their last two games but halved that statistic today and didn’t concede a single point until the last ten minutes.

Although Florence Long and Lucy Atwood’s tries for the visitors meant the margin of victory was slight, Austerberry emphasised Sarries’ improved performance.

“I was very pleased with the way that we bounced back from the last couple of weeks when we’ve not been on our mettle,” he said.

“We were trying to get back to our identity. As a group, we agreed we had moved away from that.

“It was back to, for the vast majority, the levels that we demand of one another and the girls lead that brilliantly.

“The two tries at the end were disappointing but the actual intent and energy was very pleasing.”

The hosts’ defence were able to hold on to the lead created largely by Georgie Lingham’s pace, who scored two counter-attacking tries.

Although dynamic wing-play isn’t necessarily what his side are known for, Austerberry felt this game proved Sarries are more than just a physical test for opponents.

“I would suggest if teams were to talk about us, it wouldn’t be edge threats, but we knew in Lingham, Lotte Clapp, with Nina [Vitisen] and Sydney Gregson we have got pace.

“We reaped some reward today from there so hopefully that will pose a few questions of us as an attacking team and make other teams think it’s not just our hard physical game that we bring.”

For the majority of the second half it was Bristol who carried the attacking threat however, although points weren’t accumulated quickly enough for head coach Kim Oliver’s liking as her side’s run of three straight league victories came to an end.

She said: “We didn’t come out firing in the first 20 minutes.

“The last half-an-hour we really took it back at them, but I guess it was a little too late.

“They capitalised on our mistakes. Our defence has been fantastic in the last two games, but we need to look after the ball a bit more and need to make smarter decisions.

“We dip in and out sometimes - when we’re on it, we’re a team to be reckoned with but when we take that step off, we let things slide, give a silly pass or we miss a tackle. 

“I think that’s when teams can really come at us - we need to cut out those dips.

“I think it comes down to mental fatigue, although I’m not entirely sure.”