Ireland head coach Tom Tierney has named Cork woman Elaine Anthony in his side to take on their Italian counterparts at the Stadio Tommaso Fattori in L’Aquila on Sunday, as Ireland look to build on an injury-time win over Scotland last weekend.
Anthony moves from the replacements to take her place in the starting 15. The Highfield player will partner Marie-Louise Reilly in the second-row, one of two changes made by Tierney, who has called up Hannah Tyrrell to fill the right wing position. Tyrrell was involved with the sevens side last weekend at the Sydney 7s.
Another Highfield and Munster player, hooker Leah Lyons, retains her place in an unchanged front row alongside props Lindsay Peat and Ailis Egan.
Flankers Ciara Griffin and Claire Molloy again join captain Paula Fitzpatrick in the back row. Alisa Hughes, who won her first Ireland cap last week, again partners Nora Stapleton at half back. Sene Naoupu and Jenny Murphy renew their centre partnership, with Alison Miller and Tyrrell on the wings and Mairead Coyne at full-back.
There are also two changes in the replacements, as Ciara Cooney fills the space vacated by Anthony, and Sophie Spence comes in as cover for the back row.
Tierney believes Ireland will have to be more streetwise this weekend, noting Scotland had shown massive improvement from their form of the past few years. He expects nothing easy against an also- improving Italy.
“It was a very tough encounter in Glasgow. The Scots really put it up to us, and for the players to get that final score when it really mattered, and to come away with the five points from such a tough encounter is very pleasing. ”
M Coyne (Connacht); H Tyrrell (Leinster), J Murphy (Leinster), S Naoupu (Aylesford Bulls), A Miller (Connacht); N Stapleton (Leinster), A Hughes (Leinster); L Peat (Leinster), L Lyons (Munster), A Egan (Leinster); E Anthony (Highfield), M-L Reilly (Leinster); C Griffin (Munster), C Molloy (Connacht), P Fitzpatrick (Leinster, captain).
J Finlay (Leinster), I Van Staden (Ulster), C O’Connor (Connacht), C Cooney (Leinster), S Spence (Leinster), M Healy (Connacht), C McLoughlin (Ulster), E Considine (Munster).
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