SANDY Park will welcome back six internationals to the starting line-up when Exeter Chiefs Women take on Bristol in the second round of the PWR on Sunday (12.30pm). 

In the wake of the WXV tournament, England’s Maisy Allen and Claudia MacDonald are back in the starting XV along with Canada’s front-row duo DaLeaka Menin and Emily Tuttosi, and USA Eagle Rachel Johnson.  

Sunday’s derby will also see the return of Japan’s Kanako Kobayashi after a year-long absence from the club while the centre rehabbed a serious knee injury. 

Scotland’s scrum-half Mairi McDonald is back on bench while hooker Cliodhna Moloney misses out after suffering a small facial fracture last weekend. 

This round two clash is likely to be an exciting encounter as five of the last seven matches between the two Westcountry sides have been decided by margins of four points or fewer. 

In round one, both teams scored eight tries each. Bristol made the most carries in the league with 172 compared to Chiefs’ 114. Chiefs made 132 tackles while Bristol made 92. 

Bristol have also made several eye-watering signings in the off-season with England duo Holly Aitchison and Hannah Botterman making the switch from Saracens. 

Head coach Susie Appleby said: “Their recruitment is where it really started. You bring in Holly Aitchison; you bring in a world class game manager, and they have got a complete England front row. 

“They are a really good side. They attack really, really well; we always say they are best alongside us in the league. They can attack from anywhere and having complemented that with a really good kicking game coming from Holly, they are just a really good side that have got a good squad. That said, so have we!” 

Sunday is Exeter's first PWR game at Sandy Park and a long-awaited women’s home game for the fans to support.  

Appleby added: “We usually get a decent following and people have been waiting for us to come back to Sandy Park. I would like to think people will come in here on Sunday. It’s always exciting to play at Sandy Park because everyone loves being here.” 

Wing MacDonald is also excited to see the home fans again: “They are incredible. Even though there were about 10 supporters that came up to Leicester, they made almost as much noise as the 800 Leicester supporters!

"The people who come down here week in, week out are brilliant…the noise of the drum, the chants that get going, it creates such an atmosphere that we really look forward to as players. Hopefully, that will be the case this Sunday and we will have lots of people down here.” 

Evie Gallagher will make her Bristol Bears debut on Sunday. The versatile Scotland forward lines up in a dynamic Bears back row alongside Alisha Butchers and Gabriella Nigrelli, as Dave Ward makes two changes from the side that beat Sale Sharks at Ashton Gate in round one.

The other change sees Meryl Smith replace the injured Amber Reed in the midfield, while two other Scotland stars, Lana Skeldon and Elliann Clarke, could also make their competitive Bears debuts in Devon on Sunday.

Sunday’s game is free to season ticket holders, while tickets are £11 for adults and £5.50 for children 16 and under in the East Terrace and seating above.

Exeter Chiefs Women: Merryn Doidge (vc), Claudia MacDonald, Kanako Kobayashi, Gabby Cantorna, Katie Buchanan, Alex Tessier, Brooke Bradley, Demi Swann, Emily Tuttosi, DaLeaka Menin, Linde van der Velden, Poppy Leitch (capt), Ebony Jefferies, Maisy Allen, Rachel Johnson. Replacements: Clara Nielson, Abby Middlebrooke, Lizzie Hanlon, Nichola Fryday, Harriet Millar-Mills, Maddie Feaunati, Mairi McDonald, Lori Cramer.

Bristol Bears: Ella Lovibond, Reneeqa Bonner, Phoebe Murray, Meryl Smith, Deborah Wills, Holly Aitchison, Lucy Burgess, Hannah Botterman, Lark Atkin-Davies, Sarah Bern, Delaney Burns (capt), Abbie Ward, Evie Gallagher, Alisha Butchers, Gabriella Nigrelli. Replacements Lana Skeldon, Siki Pam, Ellian Clarke, Hollie Cunningham, Row Marston-Mulhearn, Keira Bevan, Meg Varley, Jenny Hesketh.