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England name team for Ireland in Cork with key players back from injury

By Lucy Lomax
Gabby Cantorna of United States challenges Natasha Hunt of England as they break free to score their side's first try during the Women's International rugby match between England Red Roses and United States at Sandy Park on September 03, 2022 in Exeter, England. (Photo by Catherine Ivill - RFU/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

England head coach Simon Middleton has named his 23-player Red Roses squad to take on Ireland at Musgrave Park, Cork, in Round 4 of the TikTok Women’s Six Nations.


Natasha Hunt makes her first appearance of the tournament at scrum half with Morwenna Talling and Helena Rowland also returning from injury and set to feature for the first time in this year’s Championship off the bench.

Marlie Packer captains the side at open-side flanker while Sadia Kabeya is blind-side flanker and Alex Matthews at number eight.

In-form fly-half Holly Aitchison continues her 10-12 partnership with Tatyana Heard, who earned player of the match against Wales, with Lagi Tuima continuing at outside centre.

Gloucester-Hartpury duo Zoe Aldcroft and Sarah Beckett are the second row combination.

Connie Powell makes her maiden 2023 TikTok Women’s Six Nations appearance at hooker with Hannah Botterman and Maud Muir her front row counterparts. Powell replaces May Campbell, who made her international debut last week, dropping out of the match day squad entirely.

Ellie Kildunne is at full-back with Abby Dow and Claudia MacDonald forming a frightening back three.


England team to play Ireland

15. Ellie Kildunne (Harlequins, 32 caps)
14. Abby Dow (Harlequins, 33 caps)
13. Lagi Tuima (Harlequins, 15 caps)
12. Tatyana Heard (Gloucester-Hartpury, 12 caps)
11. Claudia MacDonald (Exeter Chiefs, 26 caps)
10. Holly Aitchison (Saracens, 18 caps)
9. Natasha Hunt (Gloucester-Hartpury, 60 caps)

1. Hannah Botterman (Saracens, 35 caps)
2. Connie Powell (Gloucester-Hartpury, 7 caps)
3. Maud Muir (Gloucester-Hartpury, 18 caps)
4. Zoe Aldcroft (VC; Gloucester Hartpury, 41 caps)
5. Sarah Beckett (Gloucester-Hartpury, 28 caps)
6. Sadia Kabeya (Loughborough Lightning, 11 caps)
7. Marlie Packer (C; Saracens, 92 caps)
8. Alex Matthews (Gloucester-Hartpury, 57 caps)

16. Lark Davies (Bristol Bears, 47 caps)
17. Mackenzie Carson (Saracens, 3 caps)
18. Sarah Bern (Bristol Bears, 55 caps)
19. Delaney Burns (Bristol Bears, 1 cap)
20. Morwenna Talling (Loughborough Lightning, 5 caps)
21. Lucy Packer (Harlequins, 12 caps)
22. Amber Reed (Bristol Bears, 63 caps)
23. Helena Rowland (Loughborough Lightning, 22 caps)


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Nickers 51 minutes ago
'One of the poorest All Blacks performances I've seen in a long time'

Extreme hyperbole from Biggar. NZ have played far, far worse than that. The 20/21 team was by far the worst of the professional era. Losses to Argentina, shambolic game against Japan and hapless NH tour of 2021. But even that dreadful team were able to put 50 points on Wales and beat them by 38. Much easier to “tear them to pieces” from the commentary box apparently. Ignored by virtually everyone is how good the ABs defence was. That is why England didn’t win, they simply could not score enough points against that defence. The ABs attack was very average, but their defence was world class and that’s what won them the game. Any Wales team that Biggar has ever played for would have found themselves in the same situation and would definitely not have scored tries from those cross kicks. That ABs team beats Biggar’s best Wales team 31 - 13. England’s attack was as good as it was allowed to be by a superior defence. Hats off to Hansen, he has picked up where MacLeod finally got the ABs to last year and not missed a step. England’s attack will be a big worry for Borthwick. They have not established a reliable, repeatable way to break teams down and score points. They were held to some very low scores by average teams in the 6N, and again here didn’t cross 20 points on either occasion. If I was an England fan I would be crying out for a new attack coach. Borthwick would do well to cast his net now, a poor home winter with a faltering attack will start the calls for his job.

12 Go to comments
Thomas 1 hours ago
'Champions get up when they can't': Matt Williams weighs in on Ireland's win over Boks

While both teams have their particular positives, I think neither team should rest on their laurels. South Africa managed to tie a series against an uncomfortable opponent, that has had their numbers for a couple of years, while trial-running a completely new attack system, that still doesn’t work properly. But one aspect of “it doesn’t work yet” is a transition from attack to defense in broken play, as the Boks leaked three tries in two matches this way, and lost the second match as a result. Ireland avoided a series loss in a hostile environment, and in spite of many key player injuries, while managing to significantly improve and tighten their defense in game 2 (which demonstrates the breadth of their squad as well as their ability to adjust and recalibrate). At the same time, their own attack hadn’t amounted to much, either (save from exploiting the gaps in the Boks’ new system, gaps that won’t be there anymore in a few months’ time), and they haven’t found an answer to the Boks scrum, which almost costed them the 2nd match, if it hadn’t been for pretty much unrepeatable Frawley heroics. In the end, there isn’t much that separates those two sides … which is exactly what we knew before the series already. Back to the drawing board for both teams, the work only just begins for two teams with the highest ambition. Start of a cycle alright.

16 Go to comments
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