Scotland U20s ready for vital Italy battle

The Scotland under-20 coaches have made eight changes, one positional and seven personnel, to the starting XV to play Italy under-20 in the IRB Junior World Championship this Sunday (17 June, kick 11.30am UK time).

Gala’s Gary Graham makes a switch with Callum Reid of Edinburgh Accies. Graham moves into the second-row while Reid takes up the reigns on the blindside flank.

In the backs Mark Bennett, Harry Leonard and Murray McConnell re-take their starting berths, at centre, stand-off and scrum-half, in place of Keith Buchan, Tommy Allan and Matt Torrance respectively. Torrance and Buchan both fall back onto the bench.

In the forwards Robin Hislop, Alex Allan and Will Bordill all return to the fold. Hislop and Allan take up their places at loosehead and tighhead prop and Bordill takes the openside flanker jersey.

Scotland under-20 attack coach, Bryan Easson, said: “We have picked our most experienced side for the Italy match, with the likes of Allan, Hislop, Leonard and Bennett all returning to the starting XV. These players have been performing consistently well throughout the year.

“We have done our homework on the Italians and we know that their forwards are formidable. We have shifted Gary Graham into the second-row because of his work-rate and tackle count and Callum Reid onto the flank because of the pace he plays the game at. We believe this variation will work better in attacking the Italian’s monstrous scrum.

“Also Tom Steven starts on the wing again. He has brought a great deal of physicality to our matches out wide and is a preferable option against a physical Italian side.

“We have to get the set piece right, move their front five around and play with intensity in order to win this match.”

If Scotland win Sunday’s match they will progress to the ninth place play-off (Friday 22 June) taking on either Fiji or Samoa.  If they lose, they could find themselves in a relegation dogfight – the 12th placed nation will play in the IRB Junior World Trophy next year, replaced by the winner of that competition.

Scotland under-20 team to play Italy under-20 at the University of the Western Cape on Sunday 17 June (kick-off 11.30am, UK time) in the ninth-place semi-final play-off:

15 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne (Edinburgh Rugby / Heriot’s)
14 Jamie Farndale (Edinburgh Rugby / Edinburgh Accies)
13 Mark Bennett (Clermont Avergne)
12 Finn Russell (Glasgow Warriors / Falkirk)
11 Tom Steven (Glasgow Hawks)
10 Harry Leonard (captain) (Edinburgh Rugby)
9 Murray McConnell (Glasgow Warriors / Ayr)
1 Robin Hislop (Edinburgh Rugby / Boroughmuir)
2 Fergus Scott (Glasgow Warriors / Currie)
3 Alex Allan (Edinburgh Rugby / Lougborough Students)
4 Gary Graham (Gala)
5 Andrew Redmayne (Dundee HSFP)
6 Callum Reid (Edinburgh Accies)
7 Will Bordill (Sale Sharks)
8 Mitch Eadie (Bristol Rugby)

Replacements:
16 George Turner (Edinburgh Rugby / Stewart’s Melville)
17 Jamie Bhatti (Stirling County)
18 Gavin Robertson (Dundee HSFP)
19 Jamie Swanson (Boroughmuir)
20 Stuart Smith (Aberdeen Grammar)
21 Matt Torrance (Ospreys)
22 Keith Buchan (Boroughmuir)