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Women’s Rugby

Lilli Ives Campion starts in Lightning’s only change to face Exeter Chiefs

Loughborough Lightning have made one change to their starting line-up to face Exeter Chiefs following last weekend’s bonus point victory over Sale Sharks.

Lilli Ives Campion, who was one of five Lightning players who spent the first three days of this week away on a Red Roses training camp at St George’s Park, comes into the second row for Saturday’s match at Sandy Park (kick-off: 2.30pm).

Hallie Taufoou is rotated to a place among the replacements, which also includes hooker Kendall Waudby.  The 21-year-old is set for her first Lightning minutes since Round 1 as Maja Meuller is absent representing Sweden in their European Championship match away against Portugal.

The back row remains unchanged for a tenth successive game as Sadia Kabeya makes her 40th Lightning appearance and looking to extend her purple patch of scoring four tries in as many games.

The 22-year-old packs down alongside captain Rachel Malcolm and Daisy Hibbert-Jones in the six, seven and eight shirts for a tenth successive match.

Last week’s player of the match Helen Nelson – one of five Lightning players to spend time away on Scotland duty in midweek – starts for a third successive match at fullback after making the PWR Team of the Week that also included teammates Hibbert-Jones, Katie Trevarthen and Abby Duguid.

Scrum-half Lucy Weaver, who made 87 passes across the 62 minutes of her first Lightning appearance in nearly a year last time out, retains her place in the starting line-up.

Bulou Mataitoga was Lightning’s top tackling back with 11 in Round 13 and makes her 30th Lightning appearance alongside Emily Scarratt, who makes the third game of her comeback in Devon.

The 38-15 victory over Sale Sharks last weekend was Lightning’s first win at the Gardens this season, with three tries being scored in each half in front of the TNT Sports cameras.

“We are really happy with the performance,” said Smith. “We certainly left some stuff out there, however, it was our most fluid performance of the season in terms of how we attacked. How we attacked and how brave we were with the ball is exactly how I see it in my head.

“The challenge now is to repeat that week on week. Obviously, that will change on tactics and weather, but when we get the opportunities to strike, we need to be as accurate as we were against Sale.”

Nathan Smith, Loughborough Lightning Head Coach

Opponents Exeter Chiefs sit third in Allianz PWR but are without a win in their last two games, having been held to a home draw against Harlequins before being pipped 31-24 last time out by unbeaten league leaders Gloucester-Hartpury in a re-run of last season’s final.

“The team we have got and the potential we’ve got as a group we do not fear anyone, but we know it is a massive challenge going down there,” added Smith. “They’ve only lost a couple of games at home in nearly three years.

“The challenge for us is can we go down there and play with the same fluidity that we did against Sale? We are going to be challenged in different areas, they’ve got a strong setpiece and we really have to be on our money there to release the kind of attack we did against Sale.”

Allianz Premiership Women’s Rugby, Round 14
Saturday 9 March
Sandy Park
Kick-off: 2.30pm

15 Helen Nelson
14 Ellen Scantlebury
13 Bulou Mataitoga
12 Emily Scarratt
11 Bo Westcombe-Evans
10 Helena Rowland
9 Lucy Weaver

1 Katie Trevarthen
2 Kathryn Treder
3 Christine Belisle
4 Abby Duguid
5 Lilli Ives Campion
6 Rachel Malcolm (c)
7 Sadia Kabeya
8 Daisy Hibbert-Jones

16 Kendall Waudby
17 Amelia Williams
18 Catherine Wells
19 Hallie Taufoou
20 Sara Svoboda
21 Meg Weaver
22 Carmela Morrall
23 Carys Williams-Morris

CHIEFS: 15 Tessier, 14 McDonald, 13 Doidge (vc), 12 Gabby Cantorna, 11 Katie Buchanan, 10 Wilkins, 9 Bradley; 1 Rogers, 2 Tuttosi, 3 Menin, 4 Fryday, 5 Leitch (c), 6 Jefferies, 7 Allen, 8 Johnson
Replacements: 16 Moloney, 17 Swann, 18 Hanlon, 19 Millar-Mills, 20 Bricknell, 21 McMahon, 22 Ortiz, 23 Kobayashi

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Saturday 27 April - 2:30pm
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