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Susie Appleby analyses Six Nations action while Gloucester-Hartpury prepare for return to Tyrrells Premier 15s action

Susie Appleby analyses Six Nations action while Gloucester-Hartpury prepare for return to Tyrrells Premier 15s action
Gloucester-Hartpury Women are currently taking a break from Tyrrells Premier 15s action while the Six Nations takes place, but have several players taking part in the Six Nations.

Their next fixture will be here at Kingsholm against Wasps Ladies on Saturday 23 March (kick off 5:20pm), straight after Gloucester Rugby’s Gallagher Premiership Rugby fixture that day, coincidentally also against Wasps.

But it’s still a busy time for Head Coach Susie Appleby, who took time out this week to offer her latest thoughts on what’s going on in the Six Nations, starting with England Women’s win over France.

“It was a good day up in Doncaster for the Red Roses. They were really positive, especially in the first half. Emily Scarratt coming back into the 13 shirt made a huge difference, and England were very tactically astute with their kicking game which put them in really good parts of the field.

“Tatyana (Heard) had another solid game, Kels (Kelly Smith) got on the end of another lovely kick from Scazz and Mo (Natasha Hunt) got on for the last 20 so a good day all round really.

[caption id="attachment_25287" align="alignnone" width="1024"]Kelly Smith Kelly Smith scores (c) Getty Images[/caption]

“The one niggle will be the second half. There were still glimpses of the quality they showed before the break, and they did make some changes. But the challenge for any team is to maintain performance when you make your changes and not drop off.

“They will feel that they shouldn't have made those changes that let France in for those late scores. There was someone in the bin for the first one, and then someone switched off in the short side defence.

“But to be top of the world, which is where England are aiming to be, you just can’t be letting France score those tries. So, they’ll be pleased with the result but there will be a little bit of frustration and they’ll have been working hard to put things right for Wales.

“I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they make some changes for Sunday though, so we’ll see who’s selected.”

Gloucester-Hartpury have had four players in the Wales squad for the first two rounds – Cerys Hale, Kelsey Jones, Hannah Jones and Bethan Lewis – so Appleby has also taken a keen interest in their matches, most recently the 3-3 draw against Italy.

“I’ve watched the highlights of the Wales game in Italy and a lot of the game was played in between in the 22s. There were too many errors by both teams for either side to really gain the upper hand.

“But there was some good defensive work by both teams, but there’s still room for improvement in attack. I know that Wales have been working hard on their attacking shape since that game and establishing how that can exploit England.

“They’ll be trying to emulate what France did from time to time and try and get behind England, maybe kick the ball a little bit more especially if Elinor Snowshill starts at 10.

“It’s going to be interesting and I wonder if Wales will make some changes and try and give chances to some other girls. Everyone is looking towards the World Cup and you have to see if these players can play.

[caption id="attachment_25493" align="alignnone" width="1024"]Hannah Jones Hannah Jones in action for Wales in Italy (c) WRU[/caption]

“They’ll have been pleased to come away with a draw from Italy, but I know from talking to a couple of our players that they’re really looking forward to playing at home for the first time. It should be a good game.”

And Gloucester-Hartpury’s other Six Nations participant has been Scotland’s Katie Dougan, who has been a replacement this far and itching to get into the action.

“Katie’s started on the bench and has been chomping at the bit. She was a bit gutted that there’s been a break because she’s desperate for some game time.

“Fingers crossed, if she gets on the pitch this weekend she’s going to make a big impact, because she’s been patiently biding her time and she’s a very good player. Hopefully she’ll get the chance to show what she can do.”

Back to domestic matters and, although the Wasps game is just about on the horizon, it’s already the subject of some discussion in the Gloucester-Hartpury squad.

“We’re genuinely looking forward to it already even though it’s still a few weeks away. It’s a proper double header with us taking on Wasps Ladies at Kingsholm straight after Gloucester Rugby have played Wasps.

“It’s super exciting and it’ll be the first action for some of the girls for about eight weeks! They’re already talking about it so they’ll be desperate to play when it does actually come around.

“Wasps haven’t lost an awful lot of players to internationals recently, so they should be fairly fresh or they could be rusty. So, anything could happen on the day.

“Training for us goes on in the meantime though, and we’re trying to keep training interesting and stimulating. We’re still pushing for the play-offs and we’ll ramp things up as the game gets closer.

“But for now, we’re just enjoying a bit of time off and keeping things ticking over while lending our support to our internationals.”
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