Scotland U20s look for urgent solutions in bid to avoid 13 straight losses

Scotland captain Rhys Tait believes his team must find an urgent solution to their defensive issues after a second consecutive defeat in the Under-20 Six Nations Summer Series.

Italy’s Francesco Ruffolo tackles Rhys Tait of Scotland in the Under-20 Six Nations Summer Series Round 2 Pool B fixture. Pic: ©INPHO/James Crombie
Italy’s Francesco Ruffolo tackles Rhys Tait of Scotland in the Under-20 Six Nations Summer Series Round 2 Pool B fixture. Pic: ©INPHO/James Crombie

Having only been eight points short of Italy for most of Thursday’s contest, a late capitulation saw the hosts secure a bonus-point and top spot in Pool A, consigning Scotland to last place in the group.

For Tait, Scotland’s maul defence was a particular cause for consternation, with five of Italy’s six scores coming as a result of lineout drives.

“A lot of conversations need to be had about our mall defence because that essentially cost us the game,” said Tait.

“They are big physical men and a lot of them are playing full-time rugby, especially the guys they had coming off the bench.

“So it was always going to be tough coming up against them, but I think we need to work on that part of our game, definitely.

“It’s frustrating but there’s a lot we can work on. We’ve got our own set up to defend lineouts that are close to our line and it just seems to be failing at the moment, which is something we are going to look at.”

Post-match, Tait and head coach Kenny Murray were left to rue the closing five minutes of the first half which ultimately swung the game in Italy’s favour.

Azzurrini hooker Lapo Frangini crossed to extend Italy’s lead, before Scotland were denied a try on two separate occasions by Italy lock Alex Mattioli, who stripped the ball away from Max Williamson and then Patrick Harrison as the interval approached.

And Tait felt those two missed chances had a seismic impact on the outcome of the game.

“A couple of times we were in their goal zone about two metres out and we’re dropping balls or getting stripped,” he said.

“If we score them then we’re up going into half time. I think individual errors just killed us.”

Murray’s side have now lost 12 consecutive matches and will be hoping it’s lucky no.13 when they play Georgia on Wednesday in their final pool fixture.

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

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