Scotland U20: Sean Lineen looks to the positives ahead of clash
MEASURING the progress of Scotland’s teenage talent cannot be done by results alone, because they win so rarely, but many of the under-20s side that take to the field in Galashiels tonight to face Italy will clutch for inspiration the memory of victory in this fixture last year.
It was the solitary win in a tough Six Nations campaign – a 20-7 triumph coming in the final match in Calvisano – and the core of tonight’s team was part of that effort. The team come back to home soil this week having come as close as any to beating their English rivals, going down 15-9 at Plymouth last Friday night. The 2012 squad lost by 50 points last season and so even in defeat there was a confidence to be drawn from last week’s showing.
New Scotland Under-20 head coach Sean Lineen believes that the difference between trying to stem the tide for 80 minutes of last year and believing that they could have won the game this time will have a positive effect as the team prepares to meet an Italian side who also enjoyed an engrossing duel with their big rivals France.
“I’m massively proud of the boys, the way they played for each other and the fight they were willing to show throughout that match,” he said of last week’s opener.
“One of the positive things is that we know where we can improve and we know we had a chance to win that match. We focus now on Italy and the challenge they’ll present at Netherdale, but I think we’ve seen hugely encouraging signs from this group of players.”
He has made two changes to the side, both in the pack. Stewart’s Melville product, Edinburgh academy tighthead Phil Cringle is promoted from the bench, replacing Ayr’s D’arcy Rae, and London Scottish flanker Tommy Spinks makes his first start in the No 6 jersey in place of Ruaridh Leishman. On the bench, Boroughmuir lock Alex Henderson is back after injury and he takes over from Cameron Turner.
Lineen said: “We have made only a couple of changes for this Friday’s match, which reflects the way we want to play. Italy ran France very close last weekend so we know the battle at the set-piece will be fierce.
“We have a strong squad this year and there is a lot of competition for places, not only in our squad, but across all teams as the first weekend of the under-20 Six Nations has been very close.
“Looking forward, we need to eradicate the number of penalties we concede, but we can’t wait to play at Gala and have bumper crowd supporting us.”
Italy have created three professional academies to bring through talent from across the country and, having run France close, are showing their improvement. They have also made a front row change this week, losing their tighthead prop Pasquali to injury in training with the Zebre pro side this week, and so calling up a Ferrari, Simone Pietro of Crociati Rugby, to anchor the scrum.
Lineen’s Italian counterpart Gianluca Guidi said: “It will be a tough game against a motivated team, which has stood up to a power like England in the first match, but our boys have done well, are an enthusiastic group and have a great work ethic. They have created a great atmosphere and success will repay them for everything they are doing.”
Tonight’s game at Netherdale will have free entry, as do all Scotland’s age-grade matches.
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