Rocky and co hit by in­jury set­backs

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - SPORT -

WITH Che­sham Gram­mar School coach Rochelle Clark on the re­place­ments bench for the Eng­land squad set to open their World Cup de­fence in Dublin yes­ter­day, the hold­ers were deal­ing with an eve-of-tour­na­ment blow.

Sara­cens fly-half Emily Scott suf­fered an in­jury which has ruled her out of the tour­na­ment and club­mate Vicky Fleet­wood has also picked up a knock.

Hooker Fleet­wood was this week set to un­dergo treat­ment with the aim of link­ing up with the Red Roses as soon as pos­si­ble. But the inju- ry to Scott de­nied her the chance to be part of Eng­land’s ti­tle de­fence and she has been re­placed by Bris­tol Ladies’ Poppy Cleall.

Che­sham Stags coach Clark – part of Eng­land’s vic­to­ri­ous squad in France three years ago and pre­par­ing for her fourth World Cup as Eng­land’s most capped in­ter­na­tional in the sport – was set to be benched against the Span­ish at the UCD Bowl, Univer­sity Col­lege Dublin, yes­ter­day.

Tour­na­ment favourites Eng­land, in­volved in the fi­nal of ev­ery women’s World Cup since the com­peti- tion’s in­cep­tion in 1991, were fan­cied to ex­tend their World Cup streak to 10 matches un­beaten, against a Spain side ranked eighth.

Eng­land con­tinue the group at Billings Park, Univer­sity Col­lege on Sun­day (ko 2.30pm) against an Ital­ian side ranked one place be­low Spain and mak­ing their first ap­pear­ance at the fi­nals in 15 years.

Italy qual­i­fied au­to­mat­i­cally, ahead of Scot­land, af­ter their per­for­mances at the 2015 and 2016 Six Na­tions but have never man­aged to get the bet­ter of the Red Roses in 15 at­tempts.

And Si­mon Mid­dle­ton’s side con­clude the group stage at Billings Park next Thurs­day against a US side ranked sev­enth in the world.

Eng­land have won 14 games against the Ea­gles since los­ing to them in 1991, at the first women’s World Cup fi­nal.

DAN MUL­LAN/ GETTY IMAGES

Rochelle ‘Rocky’ Clark

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