SCOTLAND under-20s face a vital match with Italy today at the University of Cape Town Stadium in the penultimate round of the Junior World Championship, with thoughts of relegation avoidance uppermost in the minds of both players and management, writes Alan Lorimer.
The fear of dropping out of the elite top 12 and into the eight-strong lower tier of the Junior World Trophy (which starts tomorrow in Salt Lake City) could be removed in a stroke if the Scots can repeat their RBS U20 Six Nations win over Italy. Defeat, however, would then leave Scotland in a do-or-die struggle with the losers of today’s Pacific Islands clash between Fiji and Samoa. It is a situation Scotland have faced on a perennial basis since the Junior World Championship shrank in size from 16 to 12 countries. But on each occasion Scotland have risen to the challenge and have managed to eke out a life-saving victory.
Scotland go into today’s game on the back of narrow losses to both France and Argentina, after a roasting by Australia in the opening round. That 67-12 defeat by the young Wallabies, however, was partly due to disrupted training plans as assistant coach Bryan Easson explained.
“We were supposed to have a pre-tournament training week with South Africa and play a practice match against them. But a sickness bug spread through the Baby Boks’ squad and we were forced to change our plans.”
Scotland rested their front line props, Robin Hislop and Alex Allan, against Argentina and used their top half-back pairing of Murray McConnell and Harry Leonard only for the second-half. All four return for today’s game.
Scotland U20: Hidalgo-Clyne (Edinburgh /Heriot’s); Farndale (Edinburgh/Edinburgh Accies), Bennett (Clermont Avergne), Russell (Glasgow/Falkirk), Steven (Glasgow Hawks); Leonard (capt; Edinburgh), McConnell (Glasgow Warriors/Ayr); Hislop (Edinburgh/Boroughmuir), Scott (Glasgow Warriors/Currie), Allan (Edinburgh/Lougborough Students), Gary Graham (Gala), Redmayne (Dundee HSFP), Reid (Edinburgh Accies), Bordill (Sale Sharks), Eadie (Bristol). Subs: Turner (Edinburgh/Stewart’s Melville), Bhatti (Stirling Co), Robertson (Dundee HSFP), Swanson (Boroughmuir), Smith (Aberdeen Grammar), Torrance (Ospreys), Allan (Western Province), Buchan (Boroughmuir).
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Weather for Edinburgh
Thursday 20 June 2013
Temperature: 12 C to 21 C
Wind Speed: 7 mph
Wind direction: South east
Temperature: 11 C to 19 C
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Wind direction: West