TEAM NEWS | Sale Sharks vs Saracens Women
With another two weeks of training in the bank, Saracens Women will be hoping to show further improvements in their game when they take on Sale Sharks Women at the Corpacq Stadium tomorrow.
Last time out against Bristol Bears, the side played their part in a try-fest at the StoneX, although the Bears eventually pulled clear to pick up their second win in the cup.
Despite the result, there were still a large number of learnings to take from the game, with recent arrival Abi Evans explaining that the side have been working hard on the training pitch to find those crucial improvements.
“We’ve had a few weekends off but we’re looking forward to getting back into a bit of continuity with games every week. We’ve had a lot of time together and lots of sessions on the pitch to put those wrongs to right. We’re looking forward to putting it on the field on Saturday.”
Evans made a try-scoring start to her Saracens career a fortnight ago. Whilst she was ultimately disappointed with the result, she admitted that it was a moment she won’t forget in a hurry, when she crossed the line for her first try in Saracens colours.
“It was a dream come true really. I would have liked better circumstances for my first game and first try, but there’s lot’s that we’ve taken from it since then.”
This weekend is the first of three consecutive cup fixtures for the side, with the visit of Loughborough Lightning and a trip to Twyford Avenue to follow.
Evans was quick to make the point that the side were looking forward to a run of games and, with a large number of players away at the World Cup, Evans sees this period as the perfect time to develop the new combinations within the side.
“There’s a lot of internationals away at the moment but also players who have been here far longer than I have who haven’t played in these combinations,” she explained. “It’s a chance for us to play together again and try out these combinations. We want to put all our work from the last few weeks of training into the game now.”
This fixture in the cup last season saw Saracens run out as convincing winners on the scoreboard. However, the two league encounters were significantly tighter. Since entering the league two seasons ago, Sale have quickly garnered a reputation as a dangerous side to play against.
Evans is expecting a physical encounter on Saturday afternoon but insisted that her side are prepared for whatever may come their way.
“When I’ve played Sale in the past, they’ve also been quite physical. But their backs at quite mobile too, so they will look to play out of the back. They like to bring it wide and will look to test us there, but we’re prepared for that and really looking forward to putting our game on them as well.”
Team news wise, eyes will immediately be drawn to the return of Vicky Fleetwood to the side, with the England international packing down at number 8.
Whilst the backline sees two changes, with Lisa Martin moving into a starting berth at fly-half and Lucy Biggs starting on the right wing, there is also another new arrival in the front row, as Flo Long makes her Saracens debut.
Long has joined the club on a short-term loan from University of Worcester Warriors, strengthening Alex Austerberry’s side in a key position and will no doubt prove to be a huge asset to the side for the rest of the cup campaign.
Elsewhere, Jeani Loyola could make her first appearance of the season off the bench, with the impressive Sharifa Kasolo shifting from openside to blindside flanker, as Director of Rugby Austerberry keeps faith with the majority of the squad that showed some real promise against Bristol.
Scottish native Evans laughed when admitting that she was excited to be playing “a bit nearer home!” However, she and her teammates have their minds firmly fixed on taking the game to Sale and putting their best foot forward come kick-off.
“We didn’t get to do that against Bristol, so we’re looking forward to doing it on Saturday.”
Saracens Women's Team to play Sale Sharks:
1. Flo Long
2. May Campbell
3. Kelsey Clifford
4. Fi Mcintosh
5. Sophie Tansley
6. Sharifa Kasolo
7. Grace Moore
8. Vicky Fleetwood
9. Ella Wyrwas
10. Lisa Martin
11. Abi Evans
12. Cara Wardle
13. Hannah Casey
14. Lucy Biggs
15. Isla Alejandro
16. Jodie Turl
17. Mica Gooding
18. Jeani Loyola
19. Taryn Schutzler
20. Sarah Bebbington
21. Anna Godard
22. Kirsty Exley
23. Katie Johnson