Internationals return for PWR derby with Bristol


Sandy Park will welcome back six internationals to the starting line-up when Exeter Chiefs Women take on Bristol in the second round of the PWR on Sunday.

In the wake of the WXV tournament, England’s Maisy Allen and Claudia MacDonald are back in the starting XV along with Canada’s front-row duo DaLeaka Menin and Emily Tuttosi, and USA Eagle Rachel Johnson.

Sunday’s derby will also see the return of Japan’s Kanako Kobayashi after a year-long absence from the club while the centre rehabbed a serious knee injury.

Scotland’s scrum-half Mairi McDonald is back on bench while hooker Cliodhna Moloney misses out after suffering a small facial fracture last weekend.

This round two clash is likely to be an exciting encounter as five of the last seven matches between the two Westcountry sides have been decided by margins of four points or fewer.

In round one, both teams scored eight tries each. Bristol made the most carries in the league with 172 compared to Chiefs’ 114. Chiefs made 132 tackles while Bristol made 92.

Bristol have also made several eye-watering signings in the off-season with England duo Holly Aitchison and Hannah Botterman making the switch from Saracens.

Rachel Johnson at last weekend's game against Leicester

Head coach Susie Appleby said: “Their recruitment is where it really started. You bring in Holly Aitchison; you bring in a world class game manager, and they have got a complete England front row.

“They are a really good side. They attack really, really well; we always say best alongside us in the league. They can attack from anywhere and having complemented that with a really good kicking game coming from Holly, they are just a really good side that have got a good squad. That said, so have we!”

Sunday (KO 12:30) is Exeter Chiefs Women’s first PWR game at Sandy Park and a long-awaited home game for the fans to support.

Appleby added: “We usually get a decent following and people have been waiting for us to come back to Sandy Park. I would like to think people will come in here on Sunday. It’s always exciting to play at Sandy Park because everyone loves being here.”

Wing MacDonald is also excited to see the home fans again: “They are incredible. Even though there were about 10 supporters that came up to Leicester and they made almost as much noise as the 800 Leicester supporters! The people who come down here week in, week out are brilliant…the noise of the drum, the chants that get going, it creates such an atmosphere that we really look forward to as players. Hopefully, that will be the case this Sunday and we will have lots of people down here.”

Sunday’s game is free to season ticket holders, while tickets are just £11 for adults and £5.50 for children 16 and under in the East Terrace and seating above.

Gabby Cantorna back at centre for derby game

Exeter Chiefs Women

15 Merryn Doidge (vc)
14 Claudia MacDonald
13 Kanako Kobayashi
12 Gabby Cantorna
11 Katie Buchanan
10 Alex Tessier
9 Brooke Bradley
1 Demi Swann
2 Emily Tuttosi
3 DaLeaka Menin
4 Linde van der Velden
5 Poppy Leitch (c)
6 Ebony Jefferies
7 Maisy Allen
8 Rachel Johnson


16 Clara Nielson
17 Abby Middlebrooke
18 Lizzie Hanlon
19 Nichola Fryday
20 Harriet Millar-Mills
21 Maddie Feaunati
22 Mairi McDonald
23 Lori Cramer

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