Six Nations 2015: England Women focused on performance

Acting head coach Nicky Ponsford makes five changes for Scotland after disappointment of Ireland defeat

Nicky Ponsford insists that England Women are focused on their performance as they look to bounce back with a win over Scotland in Darlington.

The acting England Women’s head coach has made five changes following their RBS 6 Nations defeat to Ireland in Ashbourne two weeks ago.

We were disappointed with the execution of our game plan against Ireland so we have been working hard on how we are going to deliver that against Scotland.

Nicky Ponsford

The world champions are fourth in the championship after two defeats from their opening three matches, but are expected to bounce back against Jules Maxton’s Scotland at the Northern Echo Arena.

The Scots have shown promising glimpses in all three of their matches so far, but have fallen to heavy defeats against France, Wales and Italy.

“We are expecting a physical battle against Scotland,” Ponsford said.

“They have a big forward pack that has put a lot of pressure on the other nations they have played this season.

“We are certainly expecting them to front up and give us a difficult game.

“For us, we are heading into the match very much focused on our performance.

“We were disappointed with the execution of our game plan against Ireland so we have been working hard on how we are going to deliver that against Scotland.”

Women’s Rugby World Cup winner Lydia Thompson (pictured above) and Richmond’s Fiona Pocock return from injury to make their first starts in this year’s championship.

Worcester winger Thompson has not played for England since the Rugby World Cup pool game against Spain in August, where she picked up an injury that ruled her out of the tournament, while Pocock has been sidelined through injury since playing against Ireland in the 2013 Six Nations.

Justine Lucas, Rowena Burnfield and Hannah Field all come into the pack at the expense of Laura Keates, Abigail Scott and Hannah Gallagher.

“It’s great to welcome Lydia and Fiona back into the squad after their absence through injury,” Ponsford added.

“Both are quality players who have proved themselves on the world stage at both the 2014 and 2010 Rugby World Cups.

“They are now ready to come back into the mix and I am really looking forward to seeing them back in an England shirt.

“We have made three other changes to the starting XV. Justine, Rowena and Hannah will benefit from more game time, they have been training really well and they deserve the opportunity to start.”

England side to play Scotland: 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).

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