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England name team with three backline changes for World Cup final

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Hannah Peters/World Rugby via Getty Images)

Simon Middleton has named an England team to play the Black Ferns in Saturday’s World Cup final that shows three changes from the XV that defeated Canada 26-19 in the semi-finals. All three alterations come in the backline, beginning at full-back where Ellie Kildunne comes in for Helena Rowland who picked up an injury last weekend.

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The other two changes are tactical, Holly Aitchison and Lydia Thompson named at inside centre and right wing respectively for the benched Tatyana Heard and Claudia MacDonald, with last weekend’s No14 Abby Dow moving to No11. On the bench, Cath O’Donnell comes in for Rosie Galligan.

Middleton said: “I could not be any prouder of the squad, how we have conducted ourselves and how we have performed. We set ourselves an objective to leave this country a better squad than when we arrived and regardless of what happens on Saturday we will do that.

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“You are always striving to create something special in team sport and we have done that with this group of Red Roses. We know in our heart of hearts that this will more than likely be the last time this group all come together, but what they have created and achieved will live on for a long time.

“With success comes scrutiny and the inevitable pressure that brings with it. This squad has stood up to all of that and more and that is testimony to their ability, resilience and unwavering belief in each other. When things get tough, this team knows how to get going, that is why we are relishing Saturday and all that it will bring.

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“There can be no bigger challenge in sport than to play the world champions in their own backyard in front of a sell-out crowd – 99.9 per cent of which will be forming part of the opposition. Great teams don’t fear those challenges, they embrace them, and meet them head-on, that is what we intend to do.”

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England (vs Black Ferns, Saturday)
15. Ellie Kildunne
14. Lydia Thompson
13. Emily Scarratt
12. Holly Aitchison
11. Abby Dow
10. Zoe Harrison
9. Leanne Infante
1. Vickii Cornborough
2. Amy Cokayne
3. Sarah Bern
4. Zoe Aldcroft
5. Abbie Ward
6. Alex Matthews
7. Marlie Packer
8. Sarah Hunter (capt)

Replacements:
16. Lark Davies
17. Maud Muir
18. Shaunagh Brown
19. Cath O’Donnell
20. Poppy Cleall
21. Sadia Kabeya
22. Claudia MacDonald
23. Tatyana Heard

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