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Infante returns as Bears trio face Black Ferns

Leanne Infante returns to the Red Roses starting lineup for the Red Roses' clash with New Zealand at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens on Sunday (November 7th, kick-off 2.45pm and live on BBC Two).

Abbie Ward retains her place in the second row after grabbing an impressive brace at Sandy Park last weekend, while Sarah Bern starts at tighthead for the second successive week.

Poppy Cleall captains the Red Roses for the first time at No.8 with scrum half Leanne Infante vice-captain.
 
The match is the second of back-to-back clashes between the first and second ranked sides in the world.

In their first outing, the Red Roses recorded a 43-12 victory over the Black Ferns in front of 9,748 fans at Sandy Park last Sunday. 

Harlequins duo Vickii Cornborough and Amy Cokayne joint tighthead prop Sarah Bern in a revised front row.

Zoe Harrison, who was named player of the match last weekend continues at fly-half with Helena Rowland making up the 10-12 axis.

Fresh from her try-scoring debut, Holly Aitchison retains her place at outside centre with Zoe Aldcroft and Abbie Ward as locks.

Worcester Warriors’ Alex Matthews comes in at blindside flanker while Marlie Packer is at openside.
 
Ellie Kildunne, Abby Dow and Lydia Thompson once again make up the back three.

Newly capped Maud Muir, Sarah Hunter and Sarah McKenna are among the finishers.


Head Coach, Simon Middleton said: “We were absolutely delighted with the performance and the result last week. We were really proud of the players and it was a privilege to be part of such a special occasion at Sandy Park.

“We know this weekend is another huge game but it’s one we’ve prepared well for in Northampton and it’s that preparation that gives us the confidence and belief that we can perform not only to the same level but hopefully even higher this weekend. 

“Developing leadership across the squad is really important and we’ve named Poppy as captain and Leanne as vice-captain for this game. With less than a year to go until the World Cup, it’s important our leadership group is broad and we see both of them as falling into this category.

“We’ve made a number of changes to the starting XV as it’s important the broader squad are exposed to rugby at the very highest level. 

“We’re looking forward to seeing how Zoe (Aldcroft) and Abbie (Ward) fair as it’s a new lock pairing. 

“Alex Matthews comes into the starting XV while Zoe Harrison and Helena Rowland have combined at 10-12 for club and country previously so we’re looking forward to seeing how they go again.
 
“Maud Muir continues to impress, she went well on her debut last weekend and deservedly goes again for us this week. 


“Playing against New Zealand is always a big occasion. They have quality players across their group and like us are fiercely proud of playing for their country, make no mistake this weekend will be tougher than last but we are more than ready. 
 
“Lastly, we’re really looking forward to playing at Franklin’s Gardens. Northampton is a proper rugby hotbed, a magnificent stadium to play in and all the players and staff can’t wait for Sunday’s game.”
 
England Women team to play New Zealand:
 
15 Ellie Kildunne (Harlequins, 16 caps)
14 Lydia Thompson (Worcester Warriors, 48 caps)
13 Holly Aitchison (Saracens, 1 cap)
12 Helena Rowland (Loughborough Lightning, 7 caps)
11 Abby Dow (Wasps, 19 caps)
10 Zoe Harrison (Saracens, 31 caps)
9 Leanne Infante (VC; Bristol Bears, 45 caps)

1 Vickii Cornborough (Harlequins, 61 caps)
2 Amy Cokayne (Harlequins, 58 caps)
3 Sarah Bern (Bristol Bears, 37 caps)
4 Zoe Aldcroft (Gloucester-Hartpury, 25 caps)
5 Abbie Ward (Bristol Bears, 48 caps)
6 Alex Matthews (Worcester Warriors, 42 caps)
7 Marlie Packer (Saracens, 77 caps)
8 Poppy Cleall (C; Saracens, 48 caps)

Finishers
16 Lark Davies (Loughborough Lightning, 32 caps)
17 Hannah Botterman (Saracens, 23 caps)
18 Maud Muir (Wasps, 1 cap)
19 Harriet Millar-Mills (Wasps, 63 caps)
20 Sarah Hunter (Loughborough Lightning, 127 caps)
21 Claudia MacDonald (Wasps, 16 caps)
22 Lagi Tuima (Harlequins, 9 caps)
23 Sarah McKenna (Saracens, 37 caps)

NPR: Florence Long (Worcester Warriors, uncapped)


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