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Preview: Ireland Women v Scotland Women

Preview: Ireland Women v Scotland Women

There will be no love lost at Energia Park when Ireland and Scotland battle it out in their Women’s Six Nations opener on Sunday (1pm).

Scotland will be out for revenge after suffering a 22-5 defeat to their Celtic rivals at the Scotstoun Stadium in last year’s Championship as they went on to finish winless at the foot of the table.

Head coach Phillip Doyle will also be looking to get one over Ireland – a team he coached to Grand Slam glory in 2013.

But with the home fans behind them Adam Griggs’ side will be desperate to get their campaign off to a winning start.

Ireland won the Championship in 2013 and 2015 but finished second from bottom last year – their worst placing since 2006.

What they said

Ireland head coach Adam Griggs said: “We’ve made no secret that last season’s results were not good enough and having a home game first up is the best possible way to start.

“We want to make sure Energia Park is a hard place for travelling teams to come and play so we must put our words into action and apply pressure from the start.

“Scotland first up is a huge game for us. We are well aware what they can bring, and simply, we need to be on our game and deliver our best performance yet to get the tournament off to a winning start.”

Scotland head coach Phillip Doyle said: “It is great to have key players Chloe Rollie and Rachel Malcolm back in the starting squad. Evie Tonkin played well at full-back in Spain, but this is such a big game and Chloe’s experience will be invaluable.

“It is going to be a great occasion for obvious reasons. The squad are really up for it and love playing at Energia Park.

“They are champing at the bit to get going. They love the Women’s Six Nations and have a renewed focus this year. It is all on closing the gap on the other nations.”

Key battle

Both captains will be looking to lead from the front with Ireland’s Ciara Griffin and Scotland’s Rachel Malcolm set for a back-row tussle.

Griffin will go into her third Championship as skipper after being appointed in 2018 and her tireless displays for her country in 2019 saw her win the Irish Player of the Year Award.

The 26-year-old will be a key figure again for Ireland but her opposite number will also be keen to make her mark.

A stress fracture in her hand forced Malcolm to miss several months. But the blindside flanker has returned to full fitness and will captain Scotland again.

Malcolm has also led her country since 2018 and will be determined to avoid another winless Championship.

Key stats

Ireland have won 12 of their 16 meetings against Scotland including a crushing 73-3 victory in 2015

Last year’s 22-5 win at the Scotstoun Stadium was Adam Griggs’ side’s only triumph in a disappointing 2019 campaign

The last time Scotland travelled to Donnybrook they claimed a 15-12 win over the hosts in 2018.

The teams

Ireland: 15. Lauren Delany, 14. Aoife Doyle, 13. Sene Naoupu, 12. Michelle Claffey, 11. Beibhinn Parsons, 10. Ellen Murphy, 9. Kathryn Dane, 1. Lindsay Peat, 2. Cliodhna Moloney, 3. Linda Djougang, 4. Aoife McDermott, 5. Nichola Fryday, 6. Ciara Griffin (c), 7. Edel McMahon, 8. Anna Caplice

Replacements: 16. Victoria Dabanovich O’Mahony, 17. Laura Feely, 18. Leah Lyons, 19. Ciara Cooney, 20. Dorothy Wall, 21. Nicole Cronin, 22. Claire Keohane, 23. Laura Sheehan

Scotland:  15. Chloe Rollie, 14. Rhona Lloyd, 13. Hannah Smith, 12. Lisa Thomson, 11. Megan Gaffney, 10. Helen Nelson, 9. Mairi McDonald, 1. Leah Bartlett, 2. Lana Skeldon, 3. Mairi Forsyth, 4. Emma Wassell, 5. Sarah Bonar, 6. Rachel Malcolm (c), 7. Rachel McLachlan, 8. Jade Konkel

Replacements: 16. Molly Wright, 17. Panashe Muzambe, 18. Lisa Cockburn, 19. Siobhan Cattigan, 20. Louise McMillan, 21. Sarah Law, 22. Evie Tonkin, 23. Alex Wallace