Source: ©INPHO/Andrew Fosker

A Final Throw of the Dice England’s Team to face Wales

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Kingsholm has proved to be the perfect choice for England’s opening home game of the series. A crowd of truly French proportions has promised to show up. Placing the game close to the Welsh border was another piece of acute thinking.

This was the management’s last opportunity – according to their own statements – to check the field before getting down to the serious business of sorting out the undroppables from the merely very good.

Here is their third crop:

15. Abigail Dow, 14. Jess Breach, 13. Emily Scarratt, 12. Helena Rowland, 11. Sarah McKenna, 10. Zoe Harrison, 9. Lucy Packer; 1. Vickii Cornborough, 2. Lark Davies, 3. Sarah Bern, 4. Poppy Cleall, 5. Abbie Ward, 6. Alex Matthews, 7. Marlie Packer, 8. Sarah Hunter (captain)

Bench: 16. Connie Powell, 17. Maud Muir, 18. Shaunagh Brown, 19. Rosie Galligan, 20. Vicky Fleetwood, 21. Natasha Hunt, 22. Amber Reed, 23. Ellie Kildunne

Out behind:

Jess Breach has been beset by a triple whammy, injuries to ankle, back and shoulder, then, as if Lady Luck needed more fun, a bout of Covid. It’s a great relief to see her back in action, though at the cost of our seeing Lydia Thompson.

Lucy Packer gets her first chance to start an international. Hollie Aitchison misses out in the race for midfield positions. Sarah McKenna proved her worth on the wing and is retained. But Middleton shows he finds it hard leaving Abby Dow out; for the second time she starts in the backfield.

Up front:

The two senior props start, to nobody’s surprise. To fit the skipper back into the frame Poppy Cleall has to move forward one row again.

The Bench:

The finishers provide a salutary reminder of the Red Roses’ overall strength. Experience is assured through Amber Reed, Vicky Fleetwood and Mo Hunt; there is pace and power aplenty across the rest of the eight.

The Welsh will be under no illusions about the task they are taking on. They have been wonderfully uplifted by their two wins, but this is a totally different kettle of fish. They know all the opposition as club team-mates or frequent opponents, but it is a long time since they last kept the margin of loss within reasonable bounds.