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One change for six-in-a-row title-chasing England heading to France

By Liam Heagney
England's Ellie Kildunne, Megan Jones and skipper Marlie Packer last weekend versus Ireland (Photo by Alex Davidson/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

John Mitchell has made one change to his starting line-up for this Saturday’s Guinness Six Nations Grand Slam decider away to France in Bordeaux.

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The English, who are chasing a sixth successive championship title but a first with their Kiwi coach in charge, turned on the style last Saturday to blitz Ireland 88-10 in front of a near-50,000 attendance at Twickenham.

That runaway success came at an injury cost, however. Hooker Lark Atkin-Davies limped off before the interval with an ankle problem and her place in the front row will be taken in France by Amy Cokayne, who is available again following the one-match ban picked for her April 13 red card in Scotland.

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Morwenna Talling, who wore the No19 jersey as a starter versus the Irish, will run out in Bordeaux with the No5 on her back. The second row was a last-gasp call-up to start in round four when Rosie Galligan broke her thumb in the warm-up just minutes before the 2:15pm kick-off.

Lizzie Hanlon was the player called onto the bench in the emergency to take the spot vacated by the suddenly promoted Talling. However, that back-up role against the French has now gone to Abbie Ward, a third-round starter in Edinburgh against the Scots.

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21 - 42
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England Women's
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Head coach Mitchell said in an RFU team media release: “Our focus has remained on our process and how we best prepare for the next opposition. We now have an exciting challenge against France in France which we’re all looking forward to.”

France, meanwhile, have made four changes to their starting XV following their 40-0 dismissal of Wales in Cardiff last Sunday.

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England (vs France Saturday)
15. Ellie Kildunne (Harlequins, 42 caps)
14. Abby Dow (Trailfinders Women, 44 caps)
13. Megan Jones (Leicester Tigers, 20 caps)
12. Tatyana Heard (Gloucester-Hartpury, 21 caps)
11. Jess Breach (Saracens, 37 caps)
10. Holly Aitchison (Bristol Bears, 29 caps)
9. Natasha Hunt (Gloucester-Hartpury, 71 caps)
1. Hannah Botterman (Bristol Bears, 46 caps)
2. Amy Cokayne (Leicester Tigers, 73 caps)
3. Maud Muir (Gloucester-Hartpury, 29 caps)
4. Zoe Aldcroft (Gloucester-Hartpury, 52 caps)
5. Morwenna Talling (Sale Sharks, 12 caps)
6. Sadia Kabeya (Loughborough Lightning, 17 caps)
7. Marlie Packer (Saracens, 103 caps) – captain
8. Alex Matthews (Gloucester-Hartpury, 66 caps)

Replacements
16. Connie Powell (Harlequins, 18 caps)
17. Mackenzie Carson (Gloucester-Hartpury, 14 caps)
18. Kelsey Clifford (Saracens, 7 caps)
19. Abbie Ward (Bristol Bears, 64 caps)
20. Maddie Feaunati (Exeter Chiefs, 4 caps)
21. Lucy Packer (Harlequins, 20 caps)
22. Emily Scarratt (Loughborough Lightning, 110 caps)
23. Sydney Gregson (Saracens, 6 caps)

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Flankly 11 hours ago
Resilient Irish will test Springboks despite provincial setbacks

The Bok kryptonite is complacency. How did they lose to Japan in 2015, or to Italy in 2016? There are plenty of less dramatic examples. They often boil down to the Boks dialing back their focus and intensity, presuming they can win with less than 100% commitment. This can be true of most teams, but there is a reason that the Boks are prone to it. It boils down to the Bok game plan being predicated on intensity. The game plan works because of the relentless and suffocating pressure that they apply. They don’t allow the opponent to control the game, and they pounce on any mistake. It works fantastically, but it is extremely demanding on the Bok players to pull it off. And the problem is that it stops working if you execute at anything less than full throttle. Complacency kills the Boks because it can lead to them playing at 97% and getting embarrassed. So the Bulls/Leinster result is dangerous. It’s exactly what is needed to introduce that hint of over-confidence. Rassie needs to remind the team of the RWC pool game, and of the fact that Ireland have won 8 of the 12 games between the teams in the last 20 years. And of course the Leinster result also means that Ireland have a point to prove. Comments like “a club team beating a test team” will be pasted on the changing room walls. They will be out to prove that the result of the RWC game truly reflects the pecking order between the teams. The Boks can win these games, but, as always, they need to avoid the kryptonite.

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