Scotland Under-20s chase semi-final place

Scotland U20's head coach John Dalziel.
Scotland U20's head coach John Dalziel.
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Scotland play their final match in Pool B of the World Rugby under-20 Championship today in Kutaisi, Georgia where the young Scots face an Italy side that is level with the Scots on championship points.

At stake for both countries today is a highest ever second finishing place in the group and, dependent on securing a winning bonus point and results elsewhere being favourable, the possibility of reaching the semi-finals.

Both sides go into this match having beaten Ireland and having lost to New Zealand. Scotland will take much from having scored five tries against Ireland but Italy perhaps more from running in four tries against the Baby Blacks. Ultimately it may all come down to the forward battle and in this area Italy are well equipped.

“We know that they have a big physical pack and six very good front row forwards,” said the Scotland head coach, John Dalziel, pictured. He added: “We’ve talked a lot amongst ourselves about the Italy set-piece. It’s not just about muscle and brawn. We have to be technically at our best.”

The Scots beat Italy 38-17 at Broadwood in the final round of the U20 Six Nations but that may not be an accurate guide. “Italy have a number of players in the World Championship who were either injured or unavailable for the Six Nations,” stated Dalziel.

For today’s match Dalziel has kept the backline and the front five positions in the forwards unchanged from the Ireland game. Tom Dodd will start at No 8 while Matt Fagerson moves to openside flanker and Luke Crosbie reverts to the blindside berth.

Among the replacements the Newcastle Falcons back-five forward Archie Erskine, who back in January was called up to the England under-20 training camp, could win his first Scotland cap to add to his Scottish honours at under-18.

Scotland under-20: B Kinghorn (Edinburgh); R Nairn (Harlequins), R McCann (Melrose), S McDowall (Ayr), D Graham (Hawick); C Eastgate (Wasps), A Simmers (Heriot’s); G Thornton (Bishop Burton College), F Renwick (Hawick), A Nicol (Stirling County), A Craig (Gloucester), C Hunter-Hill (Stirling County), L Crosbie (Currie), M Fagerson (Glasgow Hawks), T Dodd (Worcester) Subs: R Smith (Ayr), F Bradbury (Stirling County), R Dunbar (Boroughmuir), H Bain (Currie), A Erskine (Newcastle Falcons), C Shiel (Currie), J Henderson (Glasgow Hawks), P Anderson (Melrose).