TEAM NEWS | Gloucester-Hartpury vs Saracens Women (PWR - Rd 9)
Someone's unbeaten record has to go this weekend, as Saracens Women make the trip to Gloucester-Hartpury.
The league's two unbeaten sides go head-to-head at Kingsholm, with top spot and the chance to continue as the only unbeaten side left in the league on the line.
For centre Sophie Bridger, it will also be her first appearance against her former employers since moving to North London in the summer, with the Red Rose explaining that it will be a strange feeling to play against her former teammates.
"I'm really excited and it's going to be a hell of a day. Between myself and everyone I know in Gloucester, we've all known it’s coming, but we haven’t chatted too much rugby ahead of this one. I'm looking forward to playing against them. It's going to be a bit strange playing against some people for the first time but it's going to be a fun one!"
Saracens head into this one on the back of seven straight bonus-point wins and Bridger believes that her side are continuing to grow with every match they play.
"We’re confident with where we are but we know we’ve got so much more in us. We’re growing with every game and that’s what matters. The big games like this are why you play. The crowds, the nerves, the noise, it all adds to the occasion, but it is just a game of rugby. We need to stick to our game. We know what we can do and whilst we know the threats that they will bring, it’s all about focusing on us."
After a bruising encounter against Exeter last weekend, Alex Austerberry has made several changes to his side.
In the front-row, McKinley Hunt continues alongside May Campbell, with Kelsey Clifford coming in from the start at tight-head prop.
In the second-row, Emma Taylor comes in alongside Rosie Galligan, with Georgia Evans starting at openside flanker for the first time this season, with Sophie de Goede missing after a knock against Exeter.
The rest of the back-row is unchanged, with co-captain Marlie Packer and Poppy Cleall steering their side.
At scrum-half, Leanne Infante starts, with Ella Wyrwas reverting to the bench, whilst Amelia MacDougall continues at fly-half.
The rest of the starting XV is unchanged, with Bridger and Sydney Gregson linking up in the centres, whilst Lotte Clapp, Paige Farries and Jess Breach form a formidable back three.
Amongst the replacements, Bryony Field and Akina Gondwe are joined by Donna Rose, Louise McMillan and Grace Moore in providing forwards cover, with Wyrwas and Scottish pair Beth Blacklock and Coreen Grant providing the cover for the backs.
Bridger has made an immediate impact since arriving in North London and she admits that playing for Saracens is something that she doesn't take lightly.
"Sarries have paved the way in women’s rugby, so it’s really exciting to be in this shirt. It’s a privilege to be playing for this club and playing alongside some players who are already legends in their own rights. For me to know that I'm going out there and giving my all for this team is a special feeling."
Saracens Women's Team vs Gloucester-Hartpury:
1. McKinley Hunt
2. May Campbell
3. Kelsey Clifford
4. Emma Taylor
5. Rosie Galligan
6. Georgia Evans
7. Marlie Packer (Co-captain)
8. Poppy Cleall
9. Leanne Infante
10. Amelia MacDougall
11. Lotte Clapp (Co-captain)
12. Sophie Bridger
13. Sydney Gregson
14. Paige Farries
15. Jess Breach
16. Bryony Field
17. Akina Gondwe
18. Donna Rose
19. Louise McMillan
20. Grace Moore
21. Ella Wyrwas
22. Beth Blacklock
23. Coreen Grant