Royal Navy Women Select from Strong Squad for Inter Service Opener
Winning her tenth cap, Charlotte Fredrickson will lead a strong Royal Navy Women’s team when they open their Inter Service account with a match against the Royal Air Force. She will be keen to put the reversal away at Toulon behind her but also keen to get back to winning ways against the Royal Air Force where last season’s reverse halted a run of three consecutive wins. Charlotte's second stint as Royal Navy Women’s captain has coincided with their most successful season to date but she knows her team’s challenge, against a strengthened RAF team, will require a top class performance; that will probably need to surpass the decisive win they recorded in 2014, the last time they hosted the RAF at USSG Portsmouth.
Having been forced into a number of changes due to injury and travelling availability for the trip to Toulon, the Royal Navy Women’s squad is back to full strength as they prepare for the 2016 Inter Services. With Emma Swinton, like captain Fredrickson, winning her tenth cap there is a greater depth of experience in the squad than has been seen before in the Royal Navy Women’s ranks. Having missed the trip to Toulon they welcome back Sam Alderson who has scored tries in this fixture in both the previous two seasons along with vice captain, Sarah Jenkins, who returns from injury.
The team is likely to show up to six changes from the one that started at the Stade Leo Lagrange plus a couple more positional changes. This will allow the side to revert to the formations and combinations that served it so well in the early part of the campaign, before a spate of injuries took its toll. With the RAF likely to prove a challenge up front, Fredrickson will be pleased that the Royal Navy Women are finally injury free in the front row. With four of the six named front row players already capped, including Pam Williams-Wilson looking to take her personal tally to the round dozen, there is vital experience in what is likely to be a key battle.
Similarly, in the backrow, the other key battle area, the Royal Navy will be pleased at the options they have. Sam Bannard will have gained hugely after her outing in France, also Rhiann Dilmore who won her first cap in the Toulon encounter. They, along with Stacey Hargrave and Charlotte, herself, know that their work rate and accuracy at the breakdown will be key to how the match unfolds and whether Sarah Jenkins, at flyhalf, is going to be able to control the match for the home side.
Having already played the Army, the Royal Air Force have showed that they are once again a strong outfit this season. However, the Royal Navy Women have shown on more than one occasion that they are comfortable playing the role of underdogs. They have the answers within the squad to put Toulon behind them, and also to avenge last season’s defeat at RAF Halton. It will require them to reproduce the intensity and commitment they showed at USSG Portsmouth, in the 17-6 victory in 2014. It will not be easy but then Inter Service rugby shouldn’t be and for the Royal Navy Women there will be the added motivation of being able to level the series between the two teams at 7 wins each in the fourteen match series.
Royal Navy Women will be selected from the following squad: Charlotte Fredrickson (Capt) *, Sarah Jenkins (V Capt) *, Sam Alderson *, Sam Bannard, Megan Collyer, Oli Critchley *, Rhiann Dilmore *, Sophia Dockerty, Holly Greenaway, Fiesha Greene *, Stacey Hargrave *, Pip Hutchinson, Alice Kightley *, Kirsty Marlor *, Annemarie McIntyre *, Emily Park *, Kate Parkman *, Collette Simpson-Smith, Abi Sondack, Billi Staite, Helen Stevenson *, Emma Swinton *, EileenTuivaga *, Pam Williams-Wilson *, Louise Worsfold
Images by Alligin Photography / © Geraint Ashton Jones & @ Lee Crabb