SCOTLAND coach Shade Munro has made two personnel changes to his starting line-up for Saturday’s game against England – the team’s last chance to avoid a whitewash in this season’s Six Nations. Jenny Maxwell takes over from Mhairi Grieve at scrum-half, and Nicola Howat is at lock as an indirect replacement for the injured blindside Rachel Malcolm, with Sarah Bonar moving from second row to back row. The place on the bench left vacant by Howat goes to Panashe Muzambe, the uncapped Watsonians forward.
“Jenny has done well when she’s come off the bench for us and she’s added real impetus to our attack,” Munro said of Maxwell, who has competed all season with Grieve and Sarah Law for the No 9 jersey. “She adds real pace to our game, and rather than wait until she comes off the bench to do that, we thought we would [play her] from the start. We have three nines, so it was a difficult decision to make, but she deserves this opportunity.
“Rachel has just not recovered in time from the concussion she got against Wales. The doctors took a look at her earlier in the week and there’s just no way she could be involved.
“And Panashe has been in and around the Scotland squad for a while now and been 24th and 25th player with us a few times recently. It’s a great opportunity for her. We’ve monitored her all year and she has got a lot better and a lot fitter.”
Scotland’s 17-15 loss to Wales was their fourth defeat in four Championship outings, and it will take something very extraordinary to prevent it becoming five out of five against England, who have averaged nearly 50 points per game so far and are going for the Grand Slam. “It’ll be a tough game – we’ll have to find another level against a team as good as England,” Munro added.
“We need to try and stop their attacking lineout drives, put in good defensive sets and score if we can, so there are small victories that we can make in this game. We put in a good performance defensively against Wales, and it’s an area that we have stepped up in.
“We hope to be combative, bring an intensity and be organised. England put you under pressure in every facet of the game, so we have to be clear in what we want to do.
“We trained on the big pitch at Murrayfield today to get some big stadium atmosphere and it certainly added to the session; the players were very upbeat. It was good to have done that, because Twickenham can be a daunting stadium, but I think having the game there does add value and the girls are excited.”
Scotland (v England at Twickenham, Saturday, 7.30pm): Chloe Rollie (Lille); Rhona Lloyd (Loughborough), Hannah Smith (Hillhead/Jordanhill), Lisa Thomson (Darlington), Annabel Sergeant (Heriot’s); Helen Nelson (Montpellier), Jenny Maxwell (Loughborough); Megan Kennedy (Stirling County), Lana Skeldon (Watsonians), Mairi Forsyth (Stirling County), Emma Wassell (Heriot’s), Nicola Howat (Edinburgh Univ), Sarah Bonar (Loughborough), Rachel McLachlan (Stirling County), Jade Konkel (Harlequins). Substitutes: Jodie Rettie (Saracens), Lisa Cockburn (Darlington), Katie Dougan (Gloucester Hartpury), Panashe Muzambe (Watsonians), Deborah McCormack (Harlequins), Mhairi Grieve (Firwood Waterloo), Lisa Martin (Lille), Abi Evans (Hillhead/Jordanhill).