Scotland U20s change entire front row for Italy clash after defeat to Wales in Six Nations Summer Series

Scotland boss Kenny Murray has rung the changes ahead of a huge clash with Italy, knowing that defeat would end their chances of topping Pool B in the Under-20 Six Nations Summer Series.

Scotland's Iain Carmichael tackles Wales' Mason Grady during the 45-15 defeat. Pic: ©INPHO/Ben Brady
Scotland's Iain Carmichael tackles Wales' Mason Grady during the 45-15 defeat. Pic: ©INPHO/Ben Brady

Murray has made seven changes as he looks for a response from his squad on Thursday after their disappointing 45-15 defeat to Wales last weekend.

One of his biggest frustrations was a lack of physicality and intensity, and he has looked to remedy that with the introduction of an entirely new front row.

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“Obviously it’s a four-day turnaround so it’s tough to get guys round and ready to go for another game,” he said.

“We wanted to use the squad, give guys an opportunity and put a few young guys in there. It was always the plan to give those guys a shot.”

One of those newcomers in the front row is hooker Patrick Harrison, who scored two tries from the bench in Scotland’s defeat to Wales, and he starts in place of Scotland’s other try scorer, Gregor Hiddleston.

“Paddy’s got the run at hooker,” said Murray.

“He’s had a bit of a frustrating season so far in terms of game time, so obviously it’s an opportunity for him to show what he can do.”

The loose five forwards remain unchanged but there is a new half-back pairing, in the form of Ben Afshar and Euan Cunningham.

The pair have never previously started a game together but get their chance in Treviso on Thursday.

“Ben’s been really good in training,” explained Murray.

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“He’s a really sharp young player, got a fantastic box-kick, he’s quite tall for a No.9 with quite long levers, which is a real asset in terms of kicking.

“Euan was unfortunate during the Six Nations, he got a hamstring problem so didn't play much, unfortunately.

“I’m looking forward to seeing those two boys play.”

Elsewhere in the backs, Ross McKnight returns on the wing, and Gabe Jones starts in place of Kieran Clark at full-back.

On Sunday, the squad joined the other teams in Pool B for a day out in Venice, signing merchandise for young fans and even showing them a trick or two.

And Murray believes the day out was a good change of scene for his side after a difficult start to their tournament.

“They went and had some time to relax. We had a day off and then came back in for our review,” he added.

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“Then we looked at the areas we could be better at, winning our collisions on both sides of the ball.

“We never like losing. We don’t like losing badly, we don’t like losing at all. The boys are going out on the pitch to do their best and try and work as hard as they can.”

Meanwhile, Italy will be brimming with confidence, having got their campaign off to a flying start with a 36-19 win over Georgia.

But that has not stopped Azzurrini head coach Massimo Brunello from shuffling his pack, with 10 changes in all, five in each of the forwards and backs.

Following their clash with the tournament hosts, Scotland play their final pool game against Georgia on July 6.

The Six Nations Under-20 Summer Series takes place from June 24 – July 12. Fans can watch every match live. For more information visit the Six Nations Under-20s Youtube Channel.



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