W6N: Scotland v England: Lana Skeldon and Chloe Rollie return for home 15

Francesca McGhie is poised to make her first appearance of the Championship off the bench

Lana Skeldon
Lana Skeldon is back in the Scotland team to play England. Image: © Craig Watson. www.craigwatson.co.uk

SCOTLAND coach Bryan Easson has made two changes to his starting line-up to face England on Saturday, with Chloe Rollie returning at full-back and Lana Skeldon resuming as hooker. Rollie came off the  bench in the first two rounds of the Six Nations, having been out injured for some weeks before then. Skeldon was injured in the win against Wales and had to sit out the subsequent defeat by France.

Meryl Smith, who played at full-back in those two games, moves to inside centre to accommodate Rollie. Lisa Thomson drops out of the starting back line and on to a bench which also features winger Francesca McGhie and back-row forward Rachel McLachlan, who both missed out on the first two rounds through injury. Elis Martin drops back down to the bench to make way for Skeldon, while Lisa Cockburn, Eva Donaldson and Nicole Flynn miss out.

“It’s a huge boost [to have Skeldon back],” Easson said. “She’s the most capped player in the squad. She is playing at Bristol with the likes of [England forwards] Hannah Botterman and Abbie Ward, so there’s a bit of familiarity, which is really positive.



“Lana’s set piece is excellent. We want to improve our lineout and scrum, and with somebody like Lana it’s a real positive.

“But it’s what she does round the pitch – she’s probably a bit of an unsung hero. Defensively she’s good, in attack she has great foot movement: she’s got good skills and experience.

“Also I have to say how well Elis Martin did against France. She was making her first start, against the third best team in the world. She was blowing at 50 minutes and rightly so. We took her off and then She got a 30-second break and was back on again.

“We’re lucky now that we’ve got somebody like Lana, then Elis pushing her, and Molly Wright who can also play hooker. So we’re in a good spot, but having Lana back is always important for us.”

Rollie’s experience should also come in useful against the world No 1 side, according to the coach. “I think Lana leads by example rather than by words,” Easson added. “Chloe is the same – another player with high cap numbers who leads by example. It’s really positive.

“[Being on the bench] was tough for Chloe – she had started every international she had played. But she was out injured for quite a while prior to the Six Nations.

“That shows the strength of our group – if you’ve got somebody with Chloe’s amount of caps and experience, but she’s out for six to eight weeks and is maybe not as sharp as Meryl, who doesn’t have as much experience but is playing well, we’re in a situation now where we can pick on form. That’s a real positive for us.

“Rachel McLachlan is coming back and she’s been out for a while – Alex Stewart has taken her chance. That’s how we want it to be. Every week that they play, they borrow the jersey – it’s not theirs, and if somebody else is playing well enough, that’s how we can go.”

England will be skippered by Zoe Aldcroft, regular captain Marlie Packer having been demoted to the bench. Aldcroft moves from lock to blindside as part of a back-row reshuffle. Abbie Ward comes into the second row, while the one other change in personnel from the team that beat Wales 46-10 last time out sees Amy Cokayne take over at hooker from Lark Atkin-Davies.

More to follow . . . 

Scotland (v England at Hive Stadium, Saturday 2.15pm): C Rollie; R Lloyd, E Orr, M Smith, C Grant; H Nelson, C Mattinson; L Bartlett, L Skeldon, C Belisle, E Wassell, L McMillan, R Malcolm (captain), A Stewart, E Gallagher.  Replacements: E Martin, M Wright, E Clarke, F McIntosh, R McLachlan, M McDonald, L Thomson, F McGhie.

England: E Kildunne; A Dow, M Jones, T Heard, J Breach; H Aitchison, N Hunt; H Botterman, A Cokayne, M Muir, R Galligan, A Ward, Z Aldcroft (captain), S Kabeya, A Matthews. Replacements: C Powell, M Carson, K Clifford, M Feaunati, M Packer, L Packer, Z Harrison, S Gregson.


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About Stuart Bathgate 1407 Articles
Stuart has been the rugby correspondent for both The Scotsman and The Herald, and was also The Scotsman’s chief sports writer for 14 years from 2000.