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Loughborough Lightning make four changes for Trailfinders trip

Loughborough Lightning have made four changes to their starting line-up for this weekend’s penultimate round of the Allianz Premiership Women’s Rugby season away at Trailfinders Women.

The African Violets travel to the capital fresh from a bonus-point victory over Harlequins and another five-point haul on Saturday (kick-off: 12.30pm) will secure fifth place in the final league standings with a round to spare.

Head coach Nathan Smith recalls hooker Kathryn Treder having missed the last two rounds of league action while away on international duty with the USA, as they secured an away victory over Australia last weekend.

The 28-year-old is set to make her eleventh start of the season, in which time she has registered nine tries, and packs down alongside the experienced pairing of Katie Trevarthen and Laura Keates in the front row.

Bulou Mataitoga and Hallie Taufoou – who also played their part in the Eagles’ win in Melbourne –  are back among the replacements.

Lilli Ives Campion makes her Lightning return after recovering from a hand injury and partners Cath O’Donnell in the second row while Rachel Malcolm, Sadia Kabeya and Daisy Hibbert-Jones form the back-row trio for a 12th consecutive league match.

Meg Davey is restored to starting line-up at scrum-half with Lucy Weaver rotated to the replacements. Chloe Rollie returns from her suspension picked up while representing Scotland during the Guinness Women’s Six Nations to feature at fullback, as last weekend’s four-try star Bo Westcombe-Evans and Georgina Tasker keep their places on the wings.

Carmela Morrall and Emily Scarratt form the midfield partnership for a third successive game, with the latter entering this weekend’s fixture as Lightning’s all-time leading point scorer following her try and four conversions against Harlequins.

Scotland international Helen Nelson keeps the fly-half shirt after impressing with two excellent kick assists for Westcombe-Evans at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens a week ago.

Hooker Maja Meuller and flyhalf/fullback Lia Green, both starters last time out, are among the replacements which once more carries the names of props Amelia Williams, Isla Curphey and lock/back row, Abby Duguid.

“Defensively in the first half against Harlequins we were a lot tougher than we were against Gloucester,” said head coach Nathan Smith. “Of course there’s areas where we need improvement,  but we really took it up a level in the second half.

“Our attack functioned extremely well and for us, nothing changes going into the Trailfinders game. I am not getting too wrapped up in league positions, it is about growing our game and our squad, so those that are beneath the internationals are pushing them and raising standards across the board.

“You can see with the players coming back in this week, the squad has a real blend of youth and experience and there’s great competition for places.”

TRAILFINDERS WOMEN vs LOUGHBOROUGH LIGHTNING
Allianz Premiership Women’s Rugby, Round 17
Saturday 25 May, 2024
Trailfinders Way
Kick-off: 12.30pm

15 Chloe Rollie
14 Georgina Tasker
13 Emily Scarratt
12 Carmela Morrall
11 Bo Westcombe-Evans
10 Helen Nelson
9 Meg Davey

1 Kate Trevarthen
2 Kathryn Treder
3 Laura Keates
4 Lilli Ives Campion
5 Cath O’Donnell
6 Rachel Malcolm (c)
7 Sadia Kabeya
8 Daisy Hibbert-Jones (vc)

Replacements:
16 Maja Meuller
17 Amelia Williams
18 Isla Curphey
19 Abby Duguid
20 Hallie Taufoou
21 Lucy Weaver
22 Lia Green
23 Bulou Mataitoga

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