Second Quilters International – England v Italy Bedford – The Last Line-up before 6 Nations
In line with his long-term policy Simon Middleton has made many changes to his starting XV for the last autumn international of 2019.
In come Shaunagh Brown, Poppy Cleall, Vicky Fleetwood, Emily Scott and Claudia Macdonald. On the bench there’s a welcome recall for Amy Cokayne, and Rownita Marston retains her place. As in the Super Series, they make do without Katy Daley-Mclean. Abbie Scott and Lydia Thompson make way too.
The bench is desperately strong. The hope must be that it isn’t needed till the closing stages of the game.
12 Scott E
4 Cleall P
8 Hunter (captain)
It’s too early to talk about make or break, but some of these selections will be a true testing-ground for some. The front row will need to prove itself against a strong Italian three. Shaunagh Brown may be an occasional target in the line-out where options are more limited than before.
It’s good to see that both Abby Dow and Poppy Cleall are fit to play after their enforced removal from the field last weekend.
The inside-centre position is a strange case: with a number of contracted and uncontracted No 12s out of commission (Amber Reed, Lagi Tuima, Tatyana Heard), Zoe Harrison filled a long-felt want. But once she is restored to her prime position fly-half, who next? The answer is the excellent Emily Scott who may well have suffered during her career through her sheer versatility. Her work for Quins this year had been outstanding, but not at No 12.
Claudia Macdonald will want to put in a performance on the wing to match her showing against New Zealand.
And will the backs at last be able to throw off the shackles and score tries before the clock strikes midnight?