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Anticipation high for Round 4 as England near record attendance

Pauline Bourdon

The Women’s Six Nations returns this Saturday with a double helping of action that will help sharpen the picture as to who will be lifting the 2020 title.

England, of course, are in pole position, flying high at the top of the table with three wins from three, 14 points and two try bonuses.

France and Ireland are just behind on 11 and nine points respectively, but whereas Ireland’s Round 4 clash with Italy is awaiting rescheduling Les Bleues go in search of their third win, in an evening kick-off at Scotstoun.

ENGLAND V WALES – SATURDAY, MARCH 7, KICK-OFF 12.05PM, TWICKENHAM STOOP

As they like to do on occasion, Wales have named their 23 to take on England early this week, making two changes to their starting XV.

In a pair of changes from the France defeat in Round 3, Natalia John replaces Gwen Grabb in the second row, while Hannah Jones partners Kerin Lake in midfield, in place of Megan Webb.

Wales are still searching for their first win in the Championship and will look to bounce back from the 50-0 loss to France in Round 3.

Coach Chris Horsman admits it will be a “huge challenge” going up against an unbeaten Red Roses side, who have never lost to Wales on home soil.

“We know Saturday’s Test will be a huge challenge,” said Horsman. “England are one of the best teams in the world right now, if not the best.

“We always knew this would be a challenging Championship and following a tough day against France, England will certainly be no easier.”

Meanwhile, as England seek to go one step further along the Grand Slam path, news emanates from their camp this week that youngster Mia Venner (17) and Ellie Underwood (26) are training with the squad.

Both uncapped and from Gloucester-Hartpury in the Premier XVs, they form part of a 33-player squad in match week.

Whatever happens at Twickenham on Saturday it’s going to be loud – the record attendance of 10,545 for an England Women ticketed home game outside a World Cup could be broken, with over 9,700 tickets sold so far.

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SCOTLAND V FRANCE – SATURDAY, MARCH 7, KICK-OFF 7.45PM, SCOTSTOUN STADIUM

Later on Saturday, up in Glasgow, and Les Bleues will be keen to do all they can to keep up the pressure on the Red Roses, but face an improving Scotland.

Following their narrow defeat to the defending champions on the opening weekend, France bounced back with a ruthless 45-10 victory over Italy at the Stade Beaublanc – earning some revenge from recent Italy victories.

Another bonus-point win followed in Round 3 against Wales in Cardiff, running in eight tries in total as both Cyrielle Banet and Laure Sansus grabbed doubles in the 50-0 win.

They face a Scotland side with a point to prove after a frustrating Championship to date, which has seen Philip Doyle’s side lose 18-14 to Ireland and 53-0 to England.

Their match against Italy in the last round was postponed, giving the players an extra week to prepare their welcome for France as Scotland bid for their first win of the Championship.

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