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England Women opt for experience against Ireland

19 February 2014

  • Street recalls experienced heads
  • Free entry after England men's match against Ireland 
England's Rebecca Essex

Photo: Rugbymatters.net

England Women’s Head Coach Gary Street has made seven changes to the team that defeated Scotland two weeks ago for Saturday’s Six Nations clash against Ireland at Twickenham Stadium (kick off 6:20pm).

In a must-win match for England against the defending Six Nations Grand Slam champions, Street has called up a new front row with Rochelle Clark, Emma Croker and Sophie Hemming all starting. Also in the pack Maggie Alphonsi returns to the back row, combining with Hannah Gallagher and Sarah Hunter.

Worcester’s Katherine Merchant and Bristol’s Kay Wilson form a new wing partnership, while Lichfield’s Natasha Hunt returns at scrum half.

Street said: “It has been a tough selection this week but I think the quality of our bench shows the depth we have in this squad. We’ve had good week training and the players are feeling really positive and excited about playing against Ireland at Twickenham on Saturday.”

England last played Ireland in the Six Nations, and it was the Irish who came out on top, winning 25-0 in Ashbourne. Phillip Doyle’s side now head to Twickenham, just like Ireland's men, in search of the Triple Crown. After their defeat to France earlier this month, England know they have to win to keep any hopes alive of taking back the Six Nations crown.

“This is obviously a big game,” said Street. “With our defeat last season to Ireland, playing at Twickenham and knowing we must win, this is a big match. That said, at the same time, for us every game is a big game all the way through to the Rugby World Cup in August now as this is our target.

“Ireland have a strong all round game with some powerful forwards and pace in their backs whilst we’ve learned a lot from our defeat to France and we are feeling ready for this. I think this will be a great expansive game of rugby for the Twickenham crowd to enjoy.”

Rugby fans can watch England Women v Ireland Women for free with free entry to the stadium after England men's clash with Ireland.

England team v Ireland

15 Emily Scarratt (Lichfield)
14 Katherine Merchant (Worcester)
13 Amber Reed (Bristol)
12 Rachel Burford (Thurrock)
11 Kay Wilson (Bristol)
10 Katy Mclean (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks, captain)
9 Natasha Hunt (Lichfield)

1 Rochelle Clark (Worcester)
2 Emma Croker (Richmond)
3 Sophie Hemming (Bristol)
4 Rebecca Essex (Richmond)
5 Joanne McGilchrist (Wasps)
6 Hannah Gallagher (Saracens)
7 Margaret Alphonsi (Saracens)
8 Sarah Hunter (Lichfield)

Replacements:

16 Victoria Fleetwood (Lichfield)
17 Laura Keates (Worcester)
18 Sasha Acheson (Bristol)
19 Tamara Taylor (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks)
20 Marlie Packer (Wasps)
21 La Toya Mason (Wasps)
22 Ceri Large (Worcester)
23 Lydia Thompson (Worcester)

England’s Six Nations results and fixtures

Saturday, February 1: France 18 England 6, Stade des Alpes

Sunday, February 9: Scotland 0 England 63, Aberdeen Grammar, Aberdeen

Saturday, February 22: England v Ireland, Twickenham Stadium, kick-off 6:20p. Live on the BBC Red Button & BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra. FREE entry to Twickenham Stadium after England Men v Ireland Men.

Friday, March 7: England v Wales, the Twickenham Stoop, kick-off 7:30pm. Live on www.rfu.com/englandwomenlive and BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra. Tickets available from www.ticketmaster.co.uk (0844 847 2492) and www.quins.co.uk (0208 410 6000).

Sunday, March 16: Italy v England, Stadio Giulio Rovato, kick-off 2pm GMT