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Preview: Women’s Six Nations Round Four

Preview: Women’s Six Nations Round Four

Women's Six Nations Championship Round 3, Donnybrook Stadium, Dublin 25/2/2018 Ireland Women vs Wales Women Ireland’s Claire Molloy scores a try Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Bryan Keane

The Women’s Six Nations returns this weekend for a fourth round of action, with some intriguing clashes to whet the appetite.

The Women’s Six Nations returns this weekend for a fourth round of action, with some intriguing clashes to whet the appetite.

England and France go head-to-head, with both on the same points at the top of the standings after three wins out of three.

In a double header with the men, Wales take on Italy at the Principality hoping to improve on their defeat to Ireland last time out.

Click here for the complete 2018 Women’s Six Nations fixture list.

Whilst the last game of the weekend sees Scotland travel to Dublin still searching for their first win of the Championship.
 
France v England
Saturday March 10, 8:00PM
Stade des Alpes

As it stands, both nations have 15 points from a possible 15, and with only one game left after this weekend, a Grand Slam is on the horizon for the winner on Saturday night.

England lead the way in the standings with a points difference of +122, while France are not far behind with a +104.

Les Bleues hit top gear in Round Three when they beat Italy 57-0, while the Red Roses also put in a solid display with a 43-8 triumph over Scotland.

Last year at Twickenham it was France who started quickest, only to let a 13-0 half-time lead slip as England roared back in the second half to run out 26-13 winners.
 


England head coach Simon Middleton has made five changes to the starting line-up as Captain Sarah Hunter and Rachael Burford both return from injury at No. 8 and outside centre respectively.

Amber Reed also comes in at inside centre with Abigail Dow, who has seven tries in four internationals, coming onto the wing and Marlie Packer starting at openside flanker.

Although aware of the threat that France pose, Middleton is looking forward to the game on Saturday.

“France are a dangerous side, they are physical and well organised in both attack and defence,” said Middleton.

“The squad have worked hard this week, prepared really well and we are ready and excited to take on France, in what we know will be a really tough Test game at the Stade des Alpes.”
 
Wales v Italy
Sunday March 11, 11:45AM
Principality Stadium

Italy travel to Cardiff seeking their first win of the Championship, having taken a heavy defeat from France in Round Three.

But Wales will be out to prove a point after they too suffered a loss last time out, going down 35-12 to Ireland.
Wales head coach Rowland Phillips has brought scrum-half Keira Bevan and wing Jaz Joyce to the starting line-up for the first time this year.

Bevan returns from an ankle injury suffered during the autumn, while Joyce has been involved in sevens preparations for next month’s Commonwealth Games.
 


Hannah Jones also comes in to the team, starting at full-back, whilst Robyn Wilks is another change in the back line as she partners Kerin Lake in midfield.

Despite new faces in the team, Phillips is confident his players can perform, claiming that the chance to play at the Principality will fuel the women.

“We’ve shown enough glimpses of our potential, both in victory and defeat, to give us a lot of encouragement,” said Phillips.

“We’ve got a great platform now to show the Welsh public what women’s rugby is all about, and in particular what Wales Women are about as a team. I hope we can do that on Sunday.

“It’s a huge opportunity for us (to play at the Principality Stadium), and it’s great that the WRU has given us this chance to play in the best stadium in the world.

“There’s an incentive there in the venue alone, but our focus needs to be Italy and getting our game right.”
 
Ireland v Scotland
Sunday March 11, 1:00PM
Donnybrook

The Irish come off the back of an impressive win against Wales in Round Three to host Scotland in their last home game of the Championship.

Ireland will be hoping to continue the momentum from the last round, and have the chance to cut the gap between themselves and the Championship leaders at the top of the standings.

Head coach Adam Griggs brings in Leinster’s Hannah Tyrrell from the bench to the wing, while up front Cliodhna Moloney is named at hooker for the contest at Donnybrook Stadium.
 


Having made minimal changes after the victory over Wales last time out, Griggs believes his team can push on and is confident in his players’ potential.

He said: “We came away with a good win against Wales and there are some huge positives to come out of that. We are in a good place going into the final two games.

“I’ve no doubt Scotland will be looking to push us hard on Sunday afternoon.

“If we replicate our last performance, get the small things right, I am confident we will have a successful outcome.”

The Scottish team are desperate for their own successful outcome however, hunting for their first win of the 2018 Women’s Six Nations.

Suffering defeat at the hands of England last time out, Scotland will be eager to show that they can perform at the highest level and grind out a win.