SCOTLAND coach Bryan Easson has selected an unchanged starting line-up for his team’s final game of this year’s TikTok Six Nations against Ireland, giving the side that started last week against Italy another chance to claim that elusive victory.
The Scots are bottom of the table after picking up just two losing bonus points from their four games to date, but they can take some encouragement from the fact that they have already beaten Ireland this season, in a World Cup qualifier on neutral territory in Parma. The current campaign has seen them fail to play with anything like the same self-confidence and patience that saw them beat the Irish last time out, but Easson believes there were some encouraging aspects of last week’s loss to Italy.
“We’ve had a very honest review this week so our training sessions have focused on getting the details rights and trying to piece together the positive aspects of our recent performances,” he said. “The decision-making process throughout the TikTok Women’s Six Nations has been around giving as much experience to as many players we can ahead of the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.
“I’ve been really pleased with some of the performances from the younger players who have made the team selection choices a lot tougher. I felt the players performed well in the first half against Italy and this is another chance for that group to put the second-half wrongs to right at the Kingspan Stadium this Saturday.”
Easson has made three changes to his bench for the game in Belfast. Mairi McDonald returns as back-up scrum-half in place of Jenny Maxwell, who injured a knee against Italy and looks set to be sidelined for the rest of the season if not longer. Back-row forward Eva Donaldson has been chosen instead of Anne Young, and centre Emma Orr is back in the 23 instead of Hannah Smith.
Ireland coach Greg McWilliams has made three changes to the team that began last week’s 69-0 defeat by England. Vicky Irwin will make her debut at full-back, second-row Sam Monaghan returns from injury, and Nikki Caughey is at stand-off.
“A couple of injuries have forced us to make minor changes this week, but overall we are very pleased with the dynamic of the team and we’re excited to get to work on Saturday,” said McWilliams, whose team have recorded just one victory so far, at home to Italy.
Scotland (v Ireland at the Kingspan Stadium, Saturday 8pm): C Rollie; R Lloyd, L Thomson, H Nelson, S Campbell; S Law, C Mattinson; M Wright, L Skeldon, C Belisle, E Wassell, S Bonar, R Malcolm (captain), R McLachlan, E Gallagher. Substitutes: J Rettie, L Bartlett, K Dougan, L McMillan, E Donaldson, M McDonald, E Orr, M Gaffney.
Ireland: V Irwin; A Doyle, S Naoupu, E Breen, M Scuffil-McCabe; N Caughey, K Dane; L Djougang, N Jones, C Haney, N Fryday (captain), S Monaghan, D Wall, E McMahon, H O’Connor. Substitutes: E Hooban, C Pearse, K O’Dwyer, A McDermott, G Moore, M Og O’Leary, A Hughes, M Claffey.