Source: PWR

PWR Round 5 – Preview

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16 December


Bristol v Trailfinders Women, KO 13.00
Sale Sharks v Loughborough Lightning, KO 15.00
Leicester Tigers v Saracens, KO 15.00
Exeter Chiefs v Gloucester-Hartpury, KO 16.00
Harlequins bye

Bristol v Trailfinders Women

After their stirring first win last week TF will be keen to show this wasn’t a one-off. Giselle Mather has made minimum changes; as expected, Abby Dow and skipper Tyson Beukedoom return to starting duty and the No 9s rotate again, Ella Amory ensuring a Belgian presence in the league.

Now they confront a really powerful team, but one that hasn’t been at full throttle in each round. Dave Ward will be anxious to ensure that his side remembers how to complete moves, to keep the scoreboard ticking. That has been an unexpected weakness till now.

It’s good to see the name Claire Molloy cropping up again.

Exeter Chiefs v Gloucester-Hartpury

The big game will once more be in the south-west. The teams, finalists last year and both capable of figuring in next summer’s, will have marked this contest as vital to their prospects. G-H are quite capable of producing an away win. Their player-pool is so strong that they can keep top stars waiting on the bench for action (by my reckoning, only one uncapped player in the 23!).

Susie Appleby has more quality players than she’s allowed to put on the pitch at one time, so they have to learn to be patient.

It’s another chance to play the exciting spectator game: spot the non-internationals on parade.

Leicester Tigers v Saracens

I suggested last week that Tigers may be in for a difficult first season. They were well beaten by Trailfinders, the one other side in the same position as them, novices in the big time. They won’t expect any mercy from the visitors, though Alex Austerberry has offered one or two of his leading players a slight easing-off: neither Marlie Packer nor May Campbell start, and Poppy Cleall and Zoe Harrison are absent from parade. But when you can substitute a former Six Nations Player of the Year at No 8 with Sophie De Goede, you really don’t need those sedative tablets.

It will be fascinating to see whether the young No 10 Amelia MacDougall can maintain her high promise.

Sale Sharks v Loughborough Lightning

Here are two sides who can’t be expecting to finish at the top of the tree, however hopeful they sound. Both squads are full of fine players, but it’s the end result that counts. Lightning have the advantage of a constant stream of promising players working their way through the BUCS squad. Sharks have been dependent on non-England qualified players to an unwanted extent.

Lauren Delany celebrates her 50th club cap; Molly Morrissey and Georgie Perris-Redding are welcomed back.

Lightning go for 6/2 bench split; Nelson and O’Donnell return, among several changes.

And the odd team out…

Quins’ week off comes at the right moment. They have got to sort themselves out after suffering a heavy home defeat to Chiefs. To my mind, they need a different game-plan, putting much greater emphasis on speed of play. At ruck-time they seem to come to a complete halt.

They might well indulge in a friendly quiz too. How many laws can they recall?