Six Nations 2015: Scotland Women need good start against England

Scotland Women head coach Jules Maxton has made just two changes to her team to take on the world champions on Friday

By Gareth Llewellyn

Jules Maxton hopes Scotland Women will hit the ground running when they play England in Darlington on Friday night.

The Dark Blues head to the Northern Echo Arena as the only country without a win on the board in this year’s RBS 6 Nations following heavy defeats to France, Wales and Italy.

England have had their challenges and will be looking to bounce back after a late defeat to Ireland last time out so we know we have to hit the ground running on Friday.

Scotland Women head coach Jules Maxton on facing England

One of Scotland’s biggest problems has been their slow start to games, which has then seen him ship too many early tries and capitulate, but Maxton’s side started well against Wales at Broadwood last month, and have shown encouraging signs of progress.

Despite being world champions, England have also had their problems in this year’s championship and have looked far removed from the side that ran in 11 tries in a 63-0 win over Scotland in Aberdeen last year.

As well as losing players to retirement and unavailability, they lost head coach Gary Street just weeks before the tournament started, and have lost to Wales and Ireland on the road either side of a win over Italy at The Stoop.

But acting England head coach Nicky Ponsford has been able to recall Women’s Rugby World Cup winner Lydia Thompson on the left wing and experienced full-back Fiona Pocock as she makes five changes to the side that lost to Ireland last time out.

Scotland are still looking for a first win in the championship since February 2010, with tries hard to come by, but they created plenty of chances against the Italians.

“We were disappointed not to run the Italians closer though it’s been good to see steady progress over the last few weeks and watch confidence grow within the team,” Maxton said.

“England have had their challenges and will be looking to bounce back after a late defeat to Ireland last time out, so we know we have to hit the ground running on Friday.”

Maxton has made two changes to the starting XV from the one that lined up at the start of Scotland’s 31-8 defeat to Italy at Broadwood Stadium on 1 March.

We’ve been able to maintain the momentum of a largely similar team and hope this group of players will rise to the occasion in what is always a hard-fought fixture.

Jules Maxton

After three appearances off the bench, Murrayfield Wanderers’ Eilidh Sinclair will make her first Scotland start on the right wing in place of Hannah Sloan, with Richmond lock Deborah McCormack replacing Christianne Fahey in the engine room.

Saracens lock Fiona Sim could make her debut, after taking McCormack’s place on the bench, with Lichfield’s versatile back Jenny Maxwell also coming back into the squad after making her senior debut in the championship opener in France.

“We’ve been able to maintain the momentum of a largely similar team and hope this group of players will rise to the occasion in what is always a hard-fought fixture,” Maxwell added.

“We’re really looking forward to running out at what is a new venue for us and being the second of our two nations’ double-header are hoping for a good crowd to cheer on all our players.”

England: Fiona Pocock (Richmond); Ruth Laybourn (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), Abigail Brown (Bristol), Ceri Large (Worcester), Lydia Thompson (Worcester); Katy Mclean (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks, captain), Bianca Blackburn (Worcester); Rochelle Clark (Worcester), Victoria Fleetwood (Saracens), Justine Lucas (Lichfield), Tamara Taylor (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), Rowena Burnfield (Richmond), Alexandra Matthews (Richmond), Hannah Field (Richmond), Harriet Millar-Mills (Waterloo).

Replacements: Amy Cokayne (Lichfield), Victoria Cornborough (Richmond), Heather Kerr (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), Abbie Scott (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), Hannah Gallagher (Saracens); Fiona Davidson (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), Amber Reed (Bristol), Lauren Cattell (Saracens).

Scotland: Chloe Rollie (Melrose); Eilidh Sinclair (Murrayfield Wanderers), Hannah Smith (Hillhead Jordanhill), Nuala Deans (Wasps), Abi Evans (Northumbria University); Lisa Martin (Murrayfield Wanderers), Sarah Law (Murrayfield Wanderers); Lisa Robertson (Murrayfield Wanderers), Lana Skeldon (Melrose), Tracy Balmer (Worcester, captain), Deborah McCormack (Richmond), Emma Wassell (Murrayfield Wanderers), Rachael Cook (Murrayfield Wanderers), Karen Dunbar (RHC Cougars), Jade Konkel (Hillhead Jordanhill).

Replacements: Lindsey Smith (Hillhead Jordanhill), Heather Lockhart (Hillhead Jordanhill), Katie Dougan (RHC Cougars), Fiona Sim (Saracens), Lyndsay O’Donnell (Worcester); Mhairi Grieve (RHC Cougars), Claire Bain (RHC Cougars), Jenny Maxwell (Lichfield).

MORE:

MORE: Have your say on Facebook

MORE: The latest football news

MORE: The latest tennis news

The Sport Review
Steven Gerrard fires warning at Romelu Lukaku after fast Man United start
The Sport Review
Top 50 most stylish footballers in the world in 2017: Arsenal, Man United, Chelsea, Liverpool stars feature
The Sport Review
Top 40 Muslim footballers: Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Man United stars feature
The Sport Review
Top 25 footballers’ cars: Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Real Madrid players feature
The Sport Review
Top 20 Nigerian footballers in Premier League: Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool stars feature
The Sport Review
Arsenal player wages 2017: Do you know how much Xhaka, Ozil and Coquelin earn each week?
The Sport Review
Alvaro Morata fires warning at Chelsea’s Premier League rivals
The Sport Review
Steven Gerrard replies when asked how Liverpool FC can keep Philippe Coutinho
The Sport Review
Jose Mourinho hails Man United signing: His work is so important for us