SCOTLAND coach Philip Doyle expects his team to face a very different South Africa when the teams meet in Saturday’s second and final Test. Doyle’s first match in charge of the national side ended in a convincing 47-5 win on Monday against a team ranked one place above the Scots in the world rankings, and the coach thinks the home side could have underestimated the challenge from his own squad. This time, he is sure, the South Africans will make no such mistake.
“Maybe they underestimated us,” he said after naming his side for the rematch, which will again take place in Athlone just outside Cape Town. “They wouldn’t have expected that kind of a performance to come out of a Scottish team. They certainly know now. They’re going to come out a different team on Saturday, for sure, and there will definitely be a lot more pressure on us.”
Doyle has made three personnel changes to his starting line-up, with two of those changes being to his back division, where winger Abi Evans and scrum-half Jenni Maxwell replace Megan Gaffney and Mhairi Grieve respectively. Grieve drops to the bench, while Gaffney is omitted from the squad along with substitute Annabel Sergeant, allowing Sarah Denholm and Helen Nelson to come into the 23 as backs replacements.
In the pack, Siobhan Cattigan returns at second row, which means Louise McMillan moves back from lock to her usual position of openside. Rachel McLachlan drops to the bench.
Nelson is in the unusual position of being listed as captain despite not starting the match. Having missed out on Monday because of a bug, she may be a little below complete match fitness but her coach is confident she will play a part at some stage. Vice-captain Rachel Malcolm will lead the team on the field for as long as Nelson is on the bench.
“Helen is just not 100 per cent yet,” Doyle added. “We’re fully expecting her to be absolutely spot on by Saturday – but even if she was 100 per cent I don’t know if we’d definitely have picked her. The quality of what happened on Monday can’t be ignored.”
The quality of Nelson cannot be ignored either, which is why Doyle named her as captain in the first place. But, while she is more than likely to resume her place in the starting line-up soon, the coach’s suggestion is an encouraging sign of the increasing competition within a squad whose morale appears to have improved vastly since the Six Nations.
Scotland (v South Africa in Athlone, Saturday 2pm BST): Chloe Rollie (Harlequins); Abi Evans (Darlington Mowden Park), Hannah Smith (Watsonians), Lisa Thomson (Darlington Mowden Park), Rhona Lloyd (Loughborough Lightning); Sarah Law (Darlington Mowden Park), Jenny Maxwell (Loughborough Lightning); Lisa Cockburn (Darlington Mowden Park), Lana Skeldon (Darlington Mowden Park), Mairi Forsyth (Corstorphine Cougars), Emma Wassell (Corstorphine Cougars), Siobhan Cattigan (Stirling County), Rachel Malcolm (Loughborough Lightning), Louise McMillan (Hillhead Jordanhill), Jade Konkel (Harlequins). Substitutes: Jodie Rettie (Saracens), Panashe Muzambe (Edinburgh University/Watsonians), Megan Kennedy (Stirling County), Christine Belisle (Cartha Queen’s Park), Rachel McLachlan (Darlington Mowden Park), Mhairi Grieve (Firwood Waterloo), Sarah Denholm (Edinburgh University), Helen Nelson (Loughborough Lightning, captain).