Rugby: Scots face uphill struggle against Auld Enemy in junior world cup

Given the result at under 18 level earlier this year, one might expect a degree of anticipation today when Scotland face England in the Pool C second-round match at the Stadio Comunale di Monigo in Treviso.

Back in March, the Scotland under 18 pulled off a sensational win over their England counterparts at Leeds, but the chances of this being replicated at under 20 level today are small.

For one thing, Scotland's record of building on early age-grade success is not impressive and another is that this current England side was exceptionally strong when it competed as an under 18 side, notably when they inflicted a massive defeat on the Scots in 2009 at Newcastle.

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Moreover, all the players in the England under 20 side are attached to Premiership clubs and a fair percentage have enjoyed exposure to competitive rugby at that level, notably the talented Leicester stand-off George Ford and the Saracens inside back, Owen Farrell. England, under their coach Rob Hunter, the former Scotland B lock, have moved away from relying on sheer bulk up front, by bringing in more athletic players.

What might give Scotland hope is that Ireland were able to challenge England after losing heavily in the Six Nations under 20 Championship. Although Scotland lost 56-8 at Newbury, they will take encouragement from a strong defensive effort against South Africa.

"I think that Simon Cross has done a good job with the boys in defence" said Scotland coach Peter Wright, adding: "We have to test them as well but whether our attack is good enough to break down their defence remains to be seen. We've certainly improved our set-piece since the Six Nations. I thought our line-out against South Africa was reasonable."

But, as against South Africa, the difficulty in playing England will be obtaining quality set-piece possession to provide decent ball for what is a talented midfield trio, with skipper Duncan Weir again at stand-off alongside Danny Gilmour and Mark Bennett in the centre.

Glenn Bryce switches to full back in place of Stuart Hogg, who received a two-match ban for a late and dangerous tackle on the South Africa stand-off Johan Goosen. Kerr Gossman starts on the wing.

In the pack, Wright has selected the same front five to start the match and, in the back row flankers, Mitch Eadie and Hamish Watson are the two changes.

Scotland Under 20: G Bryce (Heriot's); S Atkin (Edinburgh Accies), M Bennett (Ayr), D Gilmour (Stirling County), K Gossman (Glasgow Hawks); D Weir (Glasgow, cap), S Kennedy (Stirling County); A Allan (Loughborough University), D Cherry (Team Northumbria), C Phillips (Stewart's-Melville), Mitch Todd (Nottingham), Robert McAlpine (West of Scotland), M Eadie (Filton College), H Watson (Leicester), James Tyas (Bath).Subs: R Ferguson (Melrose), G Hunter (Glasgow Hawks), R Hislop (Edinburgh), J Swanson (Boroughmuir), J Stevenson (Westcombe Park), C Jackson (Melrose), G Runciman (Melrose).

England Under 20: J Joseph (London Irish); M Yarde (London Irish), E Daly (London Wasps), R Mills (Gloucester Rugby), C Wade (London Wasps); O Farrell (Saracens), D Robson (Gloucester Rugby); R Bower (Leicester Tigers), R Buchanan (Harlequins), W Collier (Harlequins), S Twomey (Harlequins), J Launchbury (London Wasps), M Kvesic (Worcester Warriors, cap), M Everard (Leicester Tigers), S Jones (London Wasps).

Subs: K Britton (Gloucester Rugby), H Thomas (Sale Sharks), C Matthews (Harlequins), A Gray (Newcastle Falcons), C Cook (Bath Rugby), G Ford (Leicester Tigers), B Ransom (Saracens).

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