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6 Nations: Round 2 Preview

We look ahead to Round 2 of the Women's Six Nations. 

Scotland v Ireland, Friday, Scotstoun, Glasgow, 7.35pm

Scotland's win in this fixture last year was their first win against Ireland for 12 years and their first away win for 12 years, and the Irish will travel with the memory of that result still smarting. 

Both of these sides will be desperate to get their campaign off the ground after disappointing opening day defeats. Scotland were the victors this time last year and having lost to Italy already, this is a huge game for the hosts, who will realistically have targeted the Italians, Irish and Welsh as their only likely wins.

Both sides struggled to find a clinical edge last weekend, with Ireland in particular wasting some early dominance against an England side who showed them just how to do it whenever they sniffed a chance. Scotland too had chances against the Italians but could only score when they were up against 13 players, so much could rest this weekend on who simply takes their chances best. 

Ireland are stronger on paper especially with the return of winger Ali Miller to the starting line up while Adam Griggs has started Anna Caplice in the back row after an impressive stint of the bench last weekend. With Claire Molloy and Ciara Griffin that makes Ireland's backrow a potent threat, and with their scrum going well last weekend, they should have something of a decent platform to strike from.  Other changes see Emma Hooban at hooker, so Leah Lyons moves to tighthead prop. 

Scotland welcome back Deborah McCormack at second row having missed the Autumn Tests and last weekend and Sarah Bonar moves from lock to number 8 to replace Siobhan Cattigan who picked up an injury last week. Otherwise they are unchanged. 

IRELAND: Lauren Delany (Firwood Waterloo/IQ Rugby); Eimear Considine (UL Bohemians/Munster), Sene Naoupu (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Michelle Claffey (Blackrock/Leinster), Alison Miller (Old Belvedere/Connacht); Nicole Fowley (Galwegians/Connacht), Ailsa Hughes (Railway Union/Leinster); Laura Feely (Galwegians/Connacht), Emma Hooban (St Mary’s College/Leinster), Leah Lyons (Harlequins); Aoife McDermott (Railway Union/Leinster), Nichola Fryday (Galwegians/Connacht); Anna Caplice (Richmond), Claire Molloy (Wasps), Ciara Griffin (UL Bohemians/Munster, capt).
Replacements: Deirbhile Nic A Bhaird (UL Bohemian/Munster), Linda Djougang (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Fiona Reidy (UL Bohemians/Munster), Claire Boles (Railway Union), Claire McLaughlin (Old Belvedere/Ulster), Kathryn Dane (Old Belvedere/Ulster), Ellen Murphy (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Megan Williams (Old Belvedere/Leinster).

SCOTLAND: 15. Chloe Rollie (Lille Metropole Rugby Club Villeneuvios) 14. Liz Musgrove (Hong Kong RFC) 13. Hannah Smith (Hillhead Jordanhill)12. Lisa Thomson (Darlington Mowden Park) 11. Annabel Sergeant (Heriots Rugby Club) 10. Helen Nelson (Montpellier) 9. Mhairi Grieve (Firwood Waterloo) 1. Lisa Cockburn (Darlington Mowden Park) 2. Lana Skeldon (Watsonians) 3. Megan Kennedy (Stirling County) 4. Emma Wassell (Heriots Rugby Club) 5. Debs McCormack (Harlequins) 6. Rachel Malcolm (Loughborough Lightning) 7. Rachel McLachlan (Stirling County) 8. Sarah Bonar  (Loughborough Lightning)
Replacements:  16. Jodie Rettie (Saracens) 17. Katie Dougan (Gloucester Hartpury) 18. Mairi Forsyth (Stirling County)  19. Sophie Anderson (Hillhead Jordanhill) 20. Nicola Howat (Edinburgh University) 21. Sarah Law (Edinburgh University) 22. Lisa Martin (Lille Metropole Rugby Club Villeneuvios) 23. Rhona Lloyd (Loughborough Lightning)

Italy v Wales, Saturday, Stadio Via del Mar (Ettore Giardiniero), Lecce, KO 19.00 GMT

If there were a prize for the most improved test nation in our 10 years it might reasonably go to Italians. They have won six out of the last nine games against Wales, having lost the first nine, although six of those games were decided by a single score.

This will be the first ever international match to be played in Lecce, and the first rugby match at this stadium and the Italians will start as favourites after their excellent opening day win, in a match where they could have won by more but by some wasted chances. Unsurprisingly the Italian 23 is unchanged for the weekend as a result. 

Wales had a tough outing in France, not helped by the fact that they only arrived at the game on the day of the match after a nightmare travel journey, but they can reasonably go into this game in much more confident fashion - this is where their tournament really starts.

They have made two changes and two positional switches this weekend. There is a new second row partnership with Ospreys locks Natalia John and Gwen Crabb earning their second starts for Wales. Siwan Lillicrap moves to number eight to win her 25th and Beth Lewis moves back to the blindside.

Elinor Snowsill is set to win her 50th Wales cap if she comes on from the bench for the clash in Lecce.  Second row Mel Clay was ruled out of the match with a leg injury. The impressive Alisha Butchers has moved to the bench with Phillips saying that was "thrown in the deep end against France," after returning from long term injury and adding that "the situation should have been managed better."

WALES: Lauren Smyth (Ospreys); Jasmine Joyce (Scarlets), Hannah Jones (Scarlets), Alicia McComish (Dragons), Lisa Neumann (RGC); Robyn Wilkins (Blues), Keira Bevan (Ospreys); Caryl Thomas (Dragons), Carys Phillips (capt, Ospreys), Amy Evans (Ospreys), Natalia John (Ospreys), Gwen Crabb (Ospreys), Bethan Lewis (Dragons), Manon Johnes (Blues), Siwan Lillicrap (Ospreys)
Replacements: Kelsey Jones (Ospreys), Cara Hope (Ospreys), Cerys Hale (Dragons), Alisha Butchers (Scarlets), Alex Callender (Scarlets), Ffion Lewis (Scarlets), Elinor Snowsill (Bristol Bears), Jess Kavanagh (RGC)

England v France, Castle Park, Doncaster, KO 12:45

THE big game of the weekend, this is where the tournament this year will be decided.  In a way it's a shame this game comes so early in the schedule but both sides will know that it is the pivotal clash which will basically determine their fate for the remainder of the competition.

England's major advantage is that they are at home and though they won't be as familiar with Castle Park as the London venues they normally play at, they will need to make France feel as uncomfortable as possible in totally unfamiliar surroundings for the visitors.

The key battle here is up front. The French pack demolished Wales and was impressive in both tests against New Zealand in the Autumn. England's pack will be certainly a match for them, though there will be concerns that Ireland had the upper hand at the scrum last weekend. They must get parity here at worst and both sides will then be wary of each other's mauls. 

In that context the fact Simon Middleton has started the more experienced and powerful Vickii Cornborough over Hannah Botterman is telling while Abbie Scott also comes into the second row. Marlie Packer is missing because of injury.  That Rachael Burford is deemed surplus to requirements again is something of a surprise - she is ommitted again this weekend. 

Key players for France include Romane Menager and Safi N'Diaye, who were both outstanding last weekend, while Emily Scarratt is continuing to feel her way back into the test 15s game after an accomplished opening round last weekend. Katy Daley-Mclean is also key. The England fly-half knows Castle Park better than most, and in what is likely to be a tight clash, her kicking could be key. 

France have named an unchanged team, meaning no return for any of their 7s players who have returned from the World Series, and they have added three players to their bench. 

ENGLAND: Sarah McKenna, Jess Breach, Emily Scarratt, Tatyana Heard, Kelly Smith, Katy Daley-Mclean, Leanne Riley; Vickii Cornborough, Lark Davies, Sarah Bern, Catherine O'Donnell,  Abbie Scott, Poppy Cleall, Poppy Leitch, Sarah Hunter 
Replacements: Amy Cokayne, Hannah Botterman, Shaunagh Brown, Rowena Burnfield,  Sarah Beckett, Natasha Hunt, Zoe Harrison, Emily Scott.

FRANCE: Caroline Boujard, Ian Jason, Marine Menager, Gabrielle Vernier, Léa Murie, Camille Imart, Pauline Bourdon, Lise Arricastre, Caroline Thomas. Clara Joyeux, Lénaïg Corson,  Safi N’Diaye, Gaëlle Hermet, Céline Ferer, Romane Menager 
Replacements: Agathe Sochat Dhia Maylis Traore, Sabina Argagnon, Audrey Forlani, Coumba Diallo, Yanna Rivoalen, Lauriane Lissar, Doriane Constanty