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Preview: Scotland v Colombia in RWC qualifier decider

The Scotland team huddle

Scotland will aim to qualify for the Women’s Rugby World Cup for the first time since 2010 as they take on Colombia in Dubai’s Repechage final.

Bryan Easson’s side have travelled to Dubai for this vital game, as the teams go toe-to-toe for the very last available place in this year’s tournament.

Were Scotland to qualify, it would make them the fifth of the teams that compete in the TikTok Women’s Six Nations to reach the tournament in New Zealand, joining England, France, Wales and Italy.

But they face a stern test from Colombia, who have beaten Brazil and Kenya en route to Dubai, before a shock win against Kazakhstan last Saturday.

Emma Wassell, Rachel Malcolm and Helen Nelson

The South Americans played with only 14 players for 65 minutes in that victory, and though Scotland are overwhelming favourites, they will be wary of a team that comes off the back of a win against a side ranked nine places above them.

Scotland are ranked even higher however, 16 places higher than their opponents at ninth in the world, and they will be confident, fielding a team with only two players who have fewer than 20 caps, that they will have the experience to clinch the final place.

TEAM NEWS

Scotland have made two changes from the team that beat Japan back in November.

They have re-shuffled the backline, with Helen Nelson moving from fly-half to inside centre, pushing Lisa Thomson to outside centre with Sarah Law stepping into the No.10 jersey.

In the forward pack, Louise McMillan steps up to replace Sarah Bonar, having started on the bench for the win against Japan, and Rachel Malcolm continues as captain.

Meanwhile, Colombia coach Lissete Martinez has made two changes to the team that beat Kazakhstan last weekend.

Angie Manyoma has come into the back-row to replace Maribel Mestra, who was suspended for three weeks after being shown a red card against Kazakhstan. Manyoma starts in the No.6 jersey as Valeria Muñoz switches to openside flanker and Tatiana Hernandez moves to No.8.

The other change in personnel comes at full-back, where Laura Mejia is promoted to the starting 15 in place of Valentina Tapias, who drops down onto the bench.

WHAT THEY SAID

Scotland head coach Bryan Easson said: “To be able to pick an experienced side and a side that’s had a little bit of consistency has been really pleasing for us.

“To go into a World Cup Qualifier where there’s probably a little bit more pressure on the players than they’ve been used to, it was really important for me to look at the experience of the player when we were making that selection.

“I’m really pleased with the team we’ve got.”

Rachel Malcolm will once again captain the side in their key World Cup qualifier

Scotland captain Rachel Malcolm said: “I think for all of us we’ve never gone into a tournament as favourites, but the bottom line for me is not to change anything.

“We’ve always been a team who focus on ourselves, focus on our detail and analyse the opposition, and we’ve always been a team who respect the opposition regardless of who we’re playing. That won’t change just because some numbers on a piece of paper say we’re higher ranked or favourites”

Colombia captain Leidy Soto said: “We want Scotland to respect us and we have to earn that respect. Our defence will be a key element of our game and we have proven in the past that our heart has taken us places”.

WHERE TO WATCH

The game will be broadcast live with a 3pm kick-off on BBC Alba on Friday.

TEAMS

Scotland: 15 Chloe Rollie, 14 Rhona Lloyd, 13 Lisa Thomson, 12 Helen Nelson, 11 Megan Gaffney, 10 Sarah Law, 9 Jenny Maxwell, 1 Leah Bartlett, 2 Lana Skeldon, 3 Christine Belisle, 4 Emma Wassell, 5 Louise McMillan, 6 Rachel Malcolm, 7 Rachel McLachlan, 8 Jade Konkel.

Replacements: 16 Molly Wright, 17 Lisa Cockburn, 18 Katie Dougan, 19 Eva Donaldson, 20 Evie Gallagher, 21 Caity Mattinson, 22 Evie Wills, 23 Shona Campbell.

Colombia: Laura Mejia; Juliana Soto, Leidy Soto (captain), Isabel Cristina Romero, Maria Isabel Aruzaga; Maria Camila Lopera, Yamileth Andrea Ramirez; Ailyn Andrioly, Natalia Barajas, Claudia Alejandra Betancur, Laura Valentina Alvarez, Annagith Vargas, Angie Manyoma, Valeria Munoz, Tatiana Hernandez.

Replacements: Gales Avendano, Silvia Olave, Gisel Gomez, Lizabeth Brant, Catalina Arango, Yina Quintero, Valentina Tapias, Leidy Garcia.