TWO years ago Scotland Under-20s won by just two points in Italy and given that the current squad head into this one with four defeats already in the RBS Six Nations you feel they would be content with a similar result tonight.
Peter Wright’s squad are in Calvisano, Brescia, looking for their first win of 2012 in the San Michele Stadium and currently they sit below their also winless hosts on points difference and want to avoid a second successive wooden spoon.
In an up-and-down few weeks for the squad, one of the most consistent performers has been Jonny Gray, the second-row whose brother Richie plays for the full Scotland side.
He turned 18 on Wednesday and said: “It’s been a massive step-up in the last few weeks, especially on the physical side of things but I’m learning all the time.
“Guys like [captain] Harry Leonard have been great on giving advice and helping out, it’s really useful to have that coming from someone who’s in the professional game.” For the match, head coach Wright has made minimal changes to the starting XV that lost to Ireland a week ago.
One player returning after missing the encounters with Wales, France and the Irish is Currie hooker Fergus Scott and his work with Gray, Adam Sinclair and Callum Reid will be key in the lineout.
Scotland Under-20s: (to take on Italy in Brescia tonight 7pm local/6pm GMT): T Allan (Western Province); J Farndale (Edinburgh Rugby/Edinburgh Accies), M Bennett (Clermont Auvergne), F Russell (Falkirk), M Crawley (Boroughmuir); H Leonard (Edinburgh Rugby), M McConnell (Glasgow Warriors/Ayr); R Hislop (Edinburgh Rugby), F Scott (Currie), A Allan (Loughborough), A Sinclair (Stirling County), J Gray (Hamilton), M Eadie (Bristol Rugby), C Reid (Edinburgh Accies), W Bordill (Sale Sharks). Replacements: G Turner (Edinburgh Rugby/Stewart’s Melville), G Robertson (Dundee HSFP), A Redmayne (both Dundee HSFP), J Swanson (Boroughmuir), J Bhatti (Stirling County), M Torrance (Ospreys), R Fergusson (Ayr), T Steven (Glasgow Hawks).
Scotland Under-18 squad (v England Under-18, Mansfield Park, Hawick, Sunday, kick-off 2pm): Forwards - J Malcolm (Hutchesons’ Grammar/GHA), Blair Jardine (Kilmarnock/Carrick Academy), C Barnes (HS of Glasgow/Glasgow Hawks), R Murray (Dollar/Stirling County), D Rae (Kilmarnock), R Tait (Millfield), N Irvine-Hess (George Watson’s College), A Cramond (Royal High/BATS), B Richardson (Wellington College), P Cringle (Kirkham GS/Douglas), T Spinks (Fettes College), J Jones (Merchiston Castle), C Turner (Robert Gordon’s College). Backs - A Glashan (Edinburgh Academy), M McAndrew (Howe of Fife/Strathallan), B Cooper (Sedbergh), Callum Irvine (Harrogate)
F Robson (Kelso HS/Kelso), C Mackenzie-Lawrie (Warwick), E Farquharson (Aberdeen Grammar/Cults Academy), G Lowe (Ayr), R Young (George Watson’s College), N Herron (West of Scotland/Jordanhill School), S Pecqueur (Trinity Academy), S MacDonald (Dunblane HS/Stirling), G McConnell (Millfield).