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Ulster trio gain promotion for first Aviva game

By Niall Crozier

Ireland Women create history on Saturday evening when they line out for the first time at the Aviva Stadium where they host their Italian counterparts.

And three Ulster women have benefited as a result of coach Philip Doyle's decision to make changes to the side beaten by England at Twickenham last time out.

Cenre Grace Davitt – who will be winning her 50th cap – replaces Jenny Murphy while scrum-half Amy Davis is preferred to Larissa Muldoon, with each of the ousted pair dropping to the bench.

The third Ulster player to benefit from the post-Twickenham shake-up is hooker Stacey-Lea Kennedy whose inclusion sees Gillian Bourke switch from two to three.

Doyle said: "The team put in a strong performance against England at Twickenham and we are very much still in the hunt for the championship.

"Italy pushed us all the way last year in the final game of the tournament so we will not be taking them lightly and will need to put in a clinical performance to ensure that we secure victory in our first outing at the Aviva Stadium."

The women's match game will kick-off following the Irish men's RBS 6 Nations clash with Italy. Tickets – €10 for adults and €5 for children – are available through Ticketmaster.ie

Ireland Women: Niamh Briggs (Munster); Ashleigh Baxter (Ulster), Lynne Cantwell (Exiles), Grace Davitt (Ulster), Alison Miller (Connacht); Nora Stapleton (Leinster), Amy Davis (Ulster); Fiona Coghlan (Leinster, captain), Stacey-Lea Kennedy (Ulster), Gillian Bourke (Munster); Sophie Spence (Leinster), Marie-Louise Reilly (Leinster); Siobhan Fleming (Munster), Claire Molloy (Connacht), Heather O' Brien (Munster).

Replacements: Ailis Egan (Leinster), Fiona Hayes (Munster), Kerrie-Ann Craddock (Exiles), Paula Fitzpatrick (Leinster), Larrissa Muldoon (Exiles), Hannah Casey (Exiles), Jenny Murphy (Leinster), Jackie Shiels (Exiles).

* IRELAND U20 coach Mike Ruddock has made two changes to the side which will take on Italy on Friday night at Dubarry Park (kick-off 7.05pm), seeking only their second win in four championship games, writes Michael Sadlier.

After being heavily beaten by England last time out, Ruddock must now do without skipper and flanker Dan Leavy who has been ruled out of the tournament with a shoulder injury.

He has been replaced by Rory Moloney for Friday's penultimate championship game with second row Sean O'Brien taking over as captain.

The other change to the starting line-up sees Belfast Harlequins' Frank Taggart move to the bench in place of Michael Trigg.

Ireland U20s: D Busby, C Kelleher, D Goggin, P Robb, A Byrne, R Byrne, N McCarthy; P Dooley, M Abbott, R Burke, S O'Brien (capt), R Molony, P Timmins, R Moloney, J O'Donoghue.

Subs: S McNulty, D Coulson, O Heffernan, S Gardiner, F Taggart, J Cullen, C McKeon, H Brewer

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