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Gloucester-Hartpury duo to start for England Women against France

Gloucester-Hartpury Women's News

31 January 2020

Duncan Wood

Mo Hunt
Mo Hunt (c) Getty Images

Head coach Simon Middleton has named his England Women team to take on France in their opening 2020 Women’s Six Nations match in Pau.

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Poppy Cleall starts in the second row while Vickii Cornborough is among the finishers and in line to receive her 50th cap.

The returning Harriet Millar-Mills is also among the replacements as is Loughborough Lightning youngster Amelia Harper who could make her senior debut.

England arrived in France yesterday and take on Les Bleues at Stade du Hameau, Pau (KO 1230 GMT, Sky One and Sky Sports Mix and Sky Sports YouTube).

The two teams met in back-to-back matches during November’s autumn internationals, with the Red Roses coming out on top in Clermont [10-20] and on home soil [17-15], where Lydia Thompson’s last-gasp try sealed victory at Exeter’s Sandy Park.

Middleton said:

“We are all looking forward to another meeting with France. As you saw in the autumn and in all of our most recent contests, games between the two sides are always tight, cagey affairs and we don’t expect this one to be any different.

“France are an intelligent side with an excellent team and coaching set-up. It’s important that we focus on our game and it’s a huge opportunity for a number of our starting players to show what they can do.

“We have injuries to experienced players but also boast real strength-in-depth and have quality and versatility throughout the side.

“Poppy Cleall is not only extremely talented but an incredibly versatile player and we have no issues moving her into the second row. That sort of versatility is an asset to our group.

“We’re seeing an ever-evolving leadership group developing really well in our camps and we’re hoping to see this further translate onto the field in the forthcoming Six Nations matches.

Zoe Aldcroft

Zoe Aldcroft (c) Travis Prior

“Zoe Aldcroft is a great example of that developing leadership quality. She has had a great season to date with Gloucester-Hartpury in the Tyrrells Premier 15s and for England has not only replicated her club form but has also matured fantastically well as a leader and organiser within the group.

“We named Emily Scarratt as vice-captain during the autumn matches and she will continue in that role moving forwards. All the players have the utmost respect for her and she’s a real example to all players both on and off the field. What we would like to tap into now is her unquestionable leadership skills. She has a great understanding of the game and when she speaks players and staff alike sit up and listen.

“We are all fully aware of the challenge in front of us this weekend, the French will be hurting following the two results in November, particularly from Exeter where they were exceptional. However, one of the things we have been working on as a team is our composure under pressure, how to close games out when we are winning and to hold our nerve and win games from behind at the death. We did it twice in the summer and we did it again in November. As a team that gives us great confidence in our ability to win under pressure.

“When you play France away, it’s imperative you take the game to them and don’t sit back. You need to impose your game on them or they will run you all over the field. We don’t intend to let them do that come Sunday lunchtime.”

Red Roses matchday squad

  1. Sarah McKenna (Saracens Women, 28 caps); 14. Abby Dow (Wasps FC Ladies, 9 caps), 13. Emily Scarratt (VC, Loughborough Lightning, 85 caps), 12. Zoe Harrison (Saracens Women, 20 caps), 11. Jess Breach (Harlequins Women, 10 caps); 10. Katy Daley-MacLean (Loughborough Lightning, 110 caps), 9. Mo Hunt (Gloucester-Hartpury Women, 50 caps); 1. Hannah Botterman (Saracens Women, 17 caps), 2.Amy Cockayne (Harlequins Women/RAF, 46 caps), 3. Shaunagh Brown (Harlequins Women, 12 caps); 4. Poppy Cleall (Saracens Women, 36 caps), 5. Zoe Aldcroft (Gloucester-Hartpury Women, 16 caps); 6. Sarah Beckett (Harlequins Women, 13 caps), 7. Vicky Fleetwood (Saracens Women, 72 caps), 8. Sarah Hunter (C, Loughborough Lightning, 119 caps)

Finishers

  1. Lark Davies (Loughborough Lightning, 22 caps), 17. Vickii Cornborough (Harlequins Women, 49 caps), 18. Sarah Bern (Bristol Bears Women, 31 caps), 19. Harriet Millar-Mills (Wasps FC Ladies, 51 caps), 20. Amelia Harper (Loughborough Lightning, 0 caps), 21. Leanne Riley (Harlequins Women, 34 caps), 22. Amber Reed (Bristol Bears Women, 53 caps), 23. Emily Scott (Harlequins Women, 35 caps)

 Non-playing reserve: Heather Kerr (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks, 22 caps)

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