Domestic weekend preview as one tournament draws to a close

The TikTok Women’s Six Nations is just four weeks away and stars across the continent will be wanting to provide a reminder of their class at domestic level this weekend.

The TikTok Women’s Six Nations is just four weeks away and stars across the continent will be wanting to provide a reminder of their class at domestic level this weekend.

The Elite 1 Féminine returns after a rest week, with the two Pool leaders in action on Saturday evening, hoping to stretch their respective leads before the chasing pack take to the field.

Elsewhere, Gloucester-Hartpury face arguably their toughest test yet in the Allianz Premier 15s, while the inaugural edition of Celtic Challenge nears its conclusion on Saturday.

English title holders travel to champions elect

Gloucester-Hartpury’s title credentials will come under the microscope when they host defending champions Saracens on Saturday lunchtime.

The holders’ campaign got off to a difficult start, but since the turn of the year they have lost just one of their seven fixtures.

England’s first-choice scrum-half Leanne Infante starts on the replacements bench for Saracens meaning two of her closest challengers for the No.9 shirt battle it out from the start, with Ella Wyrwas hoping to upstage Gloucester captain Mo Hunt.

With Poppy Cleall continuing in the engine room for Sarries, Wales’ Georgia Evans retains her spot at flanker. She will go toe-to-toe with Neve Jones, playing in the back row rather than at hooker, and the pair are likely to lock horns again when Ireland travel to Cardiff Arms Park in the opening match of the 2023 Championship.

In a weekend packed full of mouth-watering clashes, second-placed Exeter Chiefs host Loughborough Lightning, while Bristol Bears host University of Worcester Warriors Women as the battle for the top four hots up.

Pool 1 leaders Montpellier kick off the weekend in France

Montpellier are hoping to secure a fifth consecutive win when they travel to challengers Bordeaux in a blockbuster Elite 1 Féminine clash on Saturday evening.

The Pool 1 leaders edged the first league meeting between the two sides 16-14 as Cyrielle Banet crossed late on.

A win for Bordeaux would see them leapfrog Montpellier at the top of the pool and they will be full of confidence following a 50-17 victory over Stade Rennais prior to the league break, with Madoussou Fall among the try-scorers that day.

In Pool 2, Blagnac host AC Bobigny hoping to consolidate their spot at the top of the table.

Blagnac coasted to a 25-0 triumph when the sides met earlier in the season and with their hosts at the foot of the standings, will be hopeful of another positive result.

Elsewhere, Émeline Gros’ Grenoble Amazones travel to Stade Villeneuvois hoping to bounce back following a 44-21 defeat to the pool leaders.

Combined Provinces looking to finish unbeaten campaign

The Combined Provinces are hoping to make it four from four when they travel to The Thistles in the final round of the Celtic Challenge.

The Combined Provinces saw off the Welsh Development XV 19-0 last weekend at a wet and windy Kingspan Stadium.

Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird scored Provinces’ first from a quick tap, Kayla Waldron added a clever second and Aoife Wafer scored a super solo try to add an extra sheen to the scoreline late on, as Greg McWilliams’ side continued their impressive run.

A win on Saturday at DAM Health Stadium would secure the double against The Thistles following their 45-12 success when the two sides met at the beginning of February.

The tournament draws to a close following this weekend as the national sides ramp up their preparations for the Championship.

Valsugana face another tough test

Finally, first faces third in the Eccellenza Femminile as Valsugana welcome Colorno.

Valsugana sit 11 points ahead of their Sunday opponents, but that gap could soon close if Veronica Madia can mastermind a surprise Colorno win.

Elsewhere, second-placed Arredissima Villorba will be looking to build on a hard-fought win over Colorno with a home victory against struggling Benetton, who have just one point to their name so far this season.