Six Nations 2015: Rachel Taylor to win 50th Wales cap against Ireland
Wales Women captain reaches milestone with Rhys Edwards' side out to claim the Triple Crown with victory in Swansea
Rachel Taylor will win her 50th cap when she leads Wales Women out against Ireland at St Helen’s on Sunday.
The 31-year-old Bristol and Newport Gwent Dragons forward (above centre) continues the side looking to bounce back defeat to France in Montauban last time out.
They have a big pack and they will try to take the game to us up front. We know it is going to be a physical battle again but we have the players capable of stopping that
Wales Women head coach Rhys Edwards on facing Ireland
Wales Women head coach Rhys Edwards has made three changes to his starting XV for the match in Swansea with Wasps and Dragons centre Gemma Rowland returning to the midfield at the expense of Robyn Wilkins.
Rowland’s return means Wales will line up with the same backline that started their famous 13-0 win over England at the same venue last month.
Up front, experienced Caernarfon and Cardiff Blues prop Jenny Davies comes in at loosehead for Caryl Thomas, and Llandaff North and Blues lock Jenny Hawkins is preferred to Rebecca Rowe in the engine room.
A win over Ireland in the Six Nations for the first time since a 15–14 scoreline at Cross Keys’ Pandy Park in 2011 will see Edwards’ side claim the Triple Crown for the first time since 2009 and keep alive their slim hopes of winning their first championship.
And the head coach believes his players are more than capable of bouncing back with a win over the 2013 Six Nations champions if they can maintain their discipline.
“I was really pleased how we performed in the first half against France,” Edwards said.
“We finished strongly and had an opportunity to go in at 8-3 which would have been a true reflection of the half, but things turned very quickly with the yellow card right on half-time, and then three or four minutes after the break we lost another player which made it difficult for ourselves.
“Saying that, France are the Six Nations champions and I thought at times, especially when it was 15 against 15, we were very competitive.
“Ireland won’t be much different to France. They have a big pack and they will try to take the game to us up front.
“We know it is going to be a physical battle again, but we have the players capable of stopping that.”
Ireland Women head coach Tom Tierney has made just one change to his starting XV from the 11-8 win over England at Asbourne last time out.
We are not underestimating Wales, they are a strong side and we have no doubt they will bring their all with them for the home crowd. If we do the small things right we will be in good shape.
Ireland Women head coach Tom Tierney on Wales test
With Katie Fitzhenry ruled out with an ankle injury she picked up in training at the weekend, Richmond’s Jackie Shiels comes in at inside centre with Aoife Doyle named on the bench.
Head coach Tierney is looking for further improvements to his side despite his side’s win over the Red Rose in Country Neath.
Like Wales, Ireland have won two out of their three matches so far in the Six Nations, with both countries losing to reigning Grand Slam champions France.
“It was great to get a win against England a fortnight ago, and has left us in a good position for the final two rounds of the championship, but we are always looking for improvements,” Tierney said.
“We are not underestimating Wales. They are a strong side and we have no doubt they will bring their all with them for the home crowd.
“If we do the small things right we will be in good shape.”
Wales: Dyddgu Hywel (Pontyclun/Scarlets); Elen Evans (Waterloo/Scarlets), Adi Taviner (Skewen/Ospreys), Gemma Rowland (Wasps/Dragons), Laurie Harries (Llandaff North/Blues); Elinor Snowsill (Dragons), Amy Day (Llandaff North/Dragons); Jenny Davies (Caernarfon/Blues), Carys Phillips (Bath Ladies/Scarlets), Catrin Edwards (Llandaff North/Scarlets), Jenny Hawkins (Llandaff North/Blues), Rachel Taylor (Bristol/Dragons, captain), Sian Williams (Worcester/Dragons), Sioned Harries (Whitland/Scarlets), Shona Powell Hughes (Skewen/Ospreys).
Replacements: Amy Lawrence (Skewen/Ospreys), Caryl Thomas (Bath/Scarlets), Amy Evans (Skewen/Ospreys), Rebecca Rowe (London Welsh/Dragons), Melissa Clay (Pencoed/Ospreys); Keira Bevan (Skewen/Ospreys), Kerin Lake (Skewen/Ospreys), Hannah Jones (Penybanc/Scarlets).
Ireland: Niamh Briggs (UL Bohemian/Munster, captain); Hannah Tyrrell (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Jenny Murphy (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Jackie Shiels (Richmond/Exiles), Alison Miller (Portlaoise/Connacht); Nora Stapleton (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Larissa Muldoon (Skewen RFC); Ruth O’Reilly (Galwegians/Connacht), Gillian Bourke (Olympico de Pozuelo RFC), Ailis Egan (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Sophie Spence (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Marie-Louise Reilly (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Paula Fitzpatrick (St Marys/Leinster), Claire Molloy (Bristol/Connacht), Heather O’Brien (Highfield/Munster).
Replacements: Sarah Mimnagh (Wasps/Exiles), Fiona Hayes (UL Bohemian/Munster), Fiona O’Brien (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Orla Fitzsimons (St Marys/Leinster), Katie Norris (Blackrock /Leinster); Tania Rosser (Blackrock/Leinster), Sene Naoupu (Galwegians/Connacht), Aoife Doyle (Shannon/Munster).