Select side playing for pride – Hodges
WALES take on Spain in Alicante today (1500GMT) in what is the first of two Women’s Six Nations warm-up matches for the visitors.
Following a successful autumn – during which Wales notched up convincing victories against Scotland and the UK Armed Forces – head coach Rowland Phillips has shown continuity in his selection for the meeting with Las Leonas this weekend.
“We’ve kept the spine of the squad CARDIFF Blues’ Premiership Select side will look to restore some pride as they play out the rest of their British & Irish Cup campaign.
They have lost all four of their games in Pool One so far but will hope to end that run against Jersey, who beat them 49-12 in the reverse fixture, today at Merthyr’s The Wern (3pm).
Head coach Richard Hodges has retained just six players from the narrow loss to Ulster ‘A’ last month, including flanker Shane LewisHughes, who will captain the side in Merthyr.
Dane Blacker will link-up with Pontypridd partner Ben Jones at half-back, replacing Pele Cowley, while James Beal returns to the wing to replace Kyle Evans.
Meanwhile, outside-half Jarrod Evans returns to the bench following a nine-week lay-off with injury.
“The British & Irish Cup has been a fantastic opportunity for the region’s most promising players to gain valuable experience and face tough opposition,” said Hodges.
“We’ve been happy with elements of performances so far, and despite coming away with narrow losses, we really want to finish the campaign on a high point.
“We are looking forward to playing up at The Wern.
“Merthyr have really bought into the fixture, and we hope the local support can give us a boost on the day.”
The best the Ospreys Premiership Select side can hope for in Pool Three is to finish as one of the best runners- from the autumn, whilst also giving some new players the opportunity to put their hands up,” said Phillips, who has selected back row Kelsey Jones and wing Jasmine Joyce among the replacements. “These are players we would have liked to have looked at late last year but didn’t get the chance to, so it’s good we’ve got the chance to take a look at them before the Six Nations begins.
“We’re approaching this weekend in up but they need to beat Cornish Pirates, who sit one point above them in second, this afternoon (2.30pm) to keep their slim hopes of qualification alive.
In Pool Five, the Dragons Premiership Select side are in the same situation as the Ospreys, but are four points behind second-placed Yorkshire Carnegie. They travel to leaders Ealing Spain very much as a competitive training camp, with a full-on training session on Friday, so there certainly won’t be any relaxing going into Saturday’s game. We’re doing this with a view to putting players under pressure and seeing how they can implement our structures and game plans.”
Wales will travel to Dublin next Sunday for their second warm-up match, where they will face Ireland at Donnybrook Stadium. today (3pm) with renewed hope after picking up their first win of the competition against Yorkshire Carnegie in December.
The Scarlets Premiership Select travel to bottom side Richmond with the hope of making the quarter-finals.
Only the group winners are guaranteed a place in the last eight and victory would put the Scarlets in the driving seat ahead of their final-day clash against Nottingham.