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Welsh Stars Set To Shine On English Rugby’s Big Day At Kingsholm

By Hannah Blackwell

Abbie Fleming and Robyn Wilkins will line-up against their Wales teammates Beth Lewis, Sisilia Tuipulotu, Kelsey Jones, Lleucu George and Lisa Neumann in the English women’s rugby show piece final.

The Allianz Premier 15s final will see Fleming and Wilkins’ Exeter Chiefs face the Gloucester-Hartpury Welsh quintet at Kingsholm on June 24.

Wales second row Fleming was in the Chiefs back row unit – playing at blindside flanker – as they overcame Saracens, 24-21, in their semi-final Experienced Wales back Wilkins was also included among the Chief’s replacements.

“There’s an interesting dynamic coming,” said Exeter head coach Susie Appleby.

“There’s Gloucester-Hartpury at home at Kingsholm with a massive following. They’ve been top of the tree, but it’s their first final, so what does that bring for them?

“For us, it’s our second final. We didn’t get it right up at Worcester last year and it felt a little bit like we were almost grateful to be there.

“We’re not grateful, obviously. We feel very privileged that we’ve managed to make it to the final.

“But the main thing is that we prepare correctly and we try and get it as right as we can because we’re going up against another incredible champion side.”

It was revenge for Exeter on Sunday – against a Sarries team that included Fleming’s Wales teammate Georgia Evans – making up for their defeat to the London club in last year’s final.

The Chiefs left it late to pip champions Saracens thanks to a 79th minute try from Olivia Mcgoverne.

That came soon after Saracens had lost their Welsh international back row forward Evans to a technical yellow card that left them one short for the closing stages.

The Cherry and Whites have flanker Lewis and Six Nations player of the championship nominee Tuipulotu, as well as Jones, George and Neumann in their ranks.

Jones was among the try scorers as Gloucester-Hartpury won the west country derby against Bristol Bears to reach their first Allianz Premier 15s final with a 21-12 triumph at Kingsholm.

At half-time Gloucester were 14-0 up but Bristol hit back after the break to close the gap to just two points.

However, Rachel Lund scored with 12 minutes left to help Chris Lynn’s side prevail 21-12 against the Dave Ward-coached Bears.

The regular season saw Gloucester-Hartpury top the table, only losing two matches. Exeter were just a point behind the Cherry and Whites with Saracens and Bristol four and 17 points off the

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