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Gaffney out to build on club's title success

Four of the Hillhead/Jordanhill team that won the RBS Women's Premier League will tonight bid to help Scotland achieve a substantial upset win against the reigning grand slam champions Ireland in the opening fixture of the RBS 6 Nations at Ashbourne RFC in Dublin.

Lindsey Smith, Jade Konkel and Megan Gaffney will start for the national team while the experienced Heather Lockhart is on the bench.

Gaffney, who will win her 10th full cap on the wing, said: "It is great to be able to travel to Scotland training sessions with some of your club team-mates. We know each others' games well and hopefully we can take our form into the Scotland matches.

"Training under the new coaches [Jules Maxton, Derek O'Riordan and Roland Reid] has been going really well and there is a good buzz about the squad nowadays."

The Richmond trio of Steph Johnston, Annabel Sergeant and the uncapped Deborah McCormack all start the match tonight and they, too, are in good form with their club leading the RFU Women's Premiership in England. Three other players, including captain Tracy Balmer, also play in the English top flight and will be keen to lead from the front.

As well as second-row McCormack, Lisa Robertson, Emma Wassel and Anna Stodter will all win first full Scotland caps should they be summoned to make an appearance from the bench.

Scotland have not won an RBS 6 Nations match since 2010, but captain Balmer said: "People will look at recent results in the campaign and think we have struggled to compete at this level, but I genuinely believe that we are not as far away from the likes of England and Ireland as you might think.

"In a number of the games last year it was often only the final pass that let us down in attack; it almost became a mental thing when it came to getting over the try line."

Ireland will, of course, start the match as overwhelming favourites, though, and their head coach Philip Doyle said: "We had a good win against the Scots last year but we will need to put in a similar performance this time round to ensure we get a positive result."

The match will be screened live online at www.irishrugby.ie

TEAM. Scotland Women (v Ireland, Ashbourne RFC, near Dublin, tonight, 7.30)

S Johnston (Worcester); K Green (Darlington Mowden Park), A Sergeant (Richmond), G Inglis (Melrose), M Gaffney (Hillhead-Jordanhill); L Martin (Murrayfield Wndrs), S Law (Murrayfield Wndrs); T Balmer (Worcester, capt), S Quick (Murrayfield Wndrs), L Smith (Hillhead-Jordanhill), J Konkel (Hillhead-Jordanhill), D McCormack (Richmond), T Forsberg (Richmond), R Slaven (Murrayfield Wndrs), L Wheeler (Saracens). Substitutes N McLeod (Stirling County), L Robertson (Murrayfield Wndrs), H Lockhart (Hillhead-Jordanhill), E Wassel (Murrayfield Wndrs), A Stodter (Loughborough Uni), L Dalgliesh (RHC Cougars), T Griffiths (RHC Cougars), L Steven (Murrayfield Wndrs)

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