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Four changes to Wales for crucial Black Ferns clash

By PA
Scrum-half Ffion Lewis in action against Scotland at the 2021 Rugby World Cup.

Wales head coach Ioan Cunningham has made four changes to his starting line-up for his side’s second Test of the Rugby World Cup against New Zealand on Sunday.

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On the back of last weekend’s victory over Scotland, he has selected an unchanged backline, while up front, Bethan Lewis, Siwan Lillicrap, Gwen Crabb and Kelsey Jones come into the forward pack, Lillicrap resuming the captaincy of the side with Hannah Jones vice-captain.

Without underestimating the size of the task ahead against the current world champions on their own turf, Cunningham has challenged his players to “grab the opportunity with both hands”.

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“As a squad we have spoken about embracing this challenge,” said Cunningham. “It’s a great opportunity to express ourselves. We’re playing New Zealand in their home world cup, we’re both on the back of wins, so it’s all about this game now.

“We have nothing to lose but you have to be brave against any New Zealand team, you have to go for it, score tries, we can’t hold back, we have to go for it. Australia showed you can create opportunities and we need to do that too.”

Cunningham feels the side has the right balance. “You’ve got to keep some momentum and consistency. I thought Meg Webb did extremely well on Sunday, she deserves another opportunity as do the rest of the backs.

“We wanted to bring the experience of our captain in at lock. Unfortunately, we have lost Alisha so we wanted to utilise Gwen Crabb’s extra strength at 6. Bethan Lewis has been pushing Alex Callender in training and deserves a start. Carys Phillips has picked up a slight ankle injury so it’s a chance for Kelsey to start and for Kat to come off the bench.

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Kerin Lake will take up a place on the bench after returning to fitness after missing the warm-up matches in August and September.

Cunningham added: “It’s great to see Kerin back involved along with Sisilia (Tuipulotu) and Abbie (Fleming) on the bench, it will be good to see them go.

“We started well against Scotland, scored two tries up but created more scoring opportunities, we probably left two tries out there. If we can take more of those opportunities, we’ll be in a much better place come Sunday evening.”

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Wales team v New Zealand (Sunday 16 October, 3.15 am (UK), pm (NZ)

15 Kayleigh Powell
14 Jasmine Joyce
13 Megan Webb
12 Hannah Jones (vice-captain)
11 Lisa Neumann
10 Elinor Snowsill
9 Ffion Lewis
1 Cara Hope
2 Kelsey Jones
3 Donna Rose
4 Natalia John
5 Siwan Lillicrap (capt)
6 Gwen Crabb
7 Bethan Lewis
8 Sioned Harries

Replacements:
16 Kat Evans
17 Caryl Thomas
18 Sisilia Tuipulotu
19 Abbie Fleming
20 Alex Callender
21 Keira Bevan
22 Robyn Wilkins
23 Kerin Lake

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