TEAM NEWS | DMP Sharks vs Saracens Women (AP15s - Rd14)
Wing Isla Alejandro admits that it’s “a completely new challenge,” as her side take on a new-look DMP Sharks side tomorrow lunchtime.
Last weekend against DMP’s northern rivals Sale, Saracens put in a consummate display, in a ten-try victory at home.
Reflecting on her side’s recent form, Alejandro explained that a real emphasis has been placed on consistency of performance.
“We’ve been really happy with where we are in training and the performances we’ve had over the last few weeks. We spoke a lot before the Sale game about putting in a consistent performance across all the games we have.”
In this last league fixture before the Six Nations break, Saracens will know that they need to put in a strong performance to keep pace with the top two in the league.
DMP though, are in good form themselves, having won two of their last four fixtures and Alejandro believes that their recent additions to their playing group make them a completely new proposition.
“We were one of the last sides to play DMP before their new players came in. They’ve had a lot of time to gel, and they’ve shown that those signings have been really important for them in the last few games too.”
Director of Rugby Alex Austerberry has made several alterations to his side ahead of this one, as he looks to keep his squad fit going into the cup period.
The front row sees Mackenzie Carson, Jodie Rettie and Alex Ellis all continue from last weekend’s victory over Sale, whilst Louise McMillan returns to the second row alongside Fi McIntosh.
In the backrow, Sharifa Kasolo starts at openside in the absence of Marlie Packer, with Georgia Evans and Poppy Cleall packing down alongside her.
At halfback, Ella Wyrwas comes back into the starting XV, whilst there is a return to action for Holly Aitchison for the first time since January at fly half.
The centre pairing of Sarah McKenna and Cara Wardle remains unchanged, with Alejandro starting on the left wing in place of Lotte Clapp. In the absence of Marlie Packer and Lotte Clapp, McKenna will captain the side in Darlington.
Coreen Grant continues on the right wing, with Jess Breach again stationed at fullback, after her four-try haul last weekend.
On the bench, May Campbell, Maya Montiel and Kelsey Clifford will all add power to the front row, with Catha Jacobs and Grace Moore also covering the pack.
Austerberry has returned to a 5-3 split on the bench too, with Leanne Infante and Flo Williams named amongst the replacements. There is also a potential first Premier15s appearance since the start of the season for talented young gun Katie Johnson in the 23 shirt, after impressing in recent weeks for Old Albanians.
With the furthest away day of the season lying in store tomorrow, Alejandro insisted that her side had to be at their best for the full eighty minutes come kick-off.
“DMP away is a really challenging fixture, especially going all the way up north. Being able to back up the performances we’ve had and making sure we don’t clock off is really important for us.”
Saracens Women’s Team vs DMP Sharks
1. Mackenzie Carson
2. Jodie Rettie
3. Alex Ellis
4. Fi McIntosh
5. Lou McMillan
6. Georgia Evans
7. Sharifa Kasolo
8. Poppy Cleall
9. Ella Wyrwas
10. Holly Aitchison
11. Isla Alejandro
12. Sarah McKenna (captain)
13. Cara Wardle
14. Coreen Grant
15. Jess Breach
16. May Campbell
17. Maya Montiel
18. Kelsey Clifford
19. Catha Jacobs
20. Grace Moore
21. Leanne Infante
22. Flo Williams
23. Katie Johnson