Six Nations: Scotland Under-20s desperate to restore some pride in final match

Scotland head coach Kenny Murray has rung the changes for the final under-20 Six Nations match tomorrow, stating that the team want to “restore a bit of pride” versus Italy following an 82-7 thumping by Ireland last time out.

The young Scots started the tournament pretty promisingly by taking a losing bonus point from a 41-36 loss to England and then defeating Wales 18-17 to end a 15-game losing streak at this level. However, in round three they were humbled 54-12 in France and it was followed by conceding 12 tries to Ireland last Friday at Scotstoun - meaning they have let in 136 points in the last 160 minutes. All of which has left the team bruised and fifth in the standings ahead of tomorrow’s match against fourth-placed Italy at Scotstoun.

Earlier this week the players “took the review on the chin” as they peeked through their fingers to rewatch the Irish match. “When we reflected on the Ireland game it was just a really poor performance from us, we were disappointed,” said Murray. “The last two games have been really tough, that second half in France we got blown away and then we didn’t really get going in the Ireland game at all.

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“Everyone gets down about it, the coaches get down, the players get down, but we had a really good chat when we came back into camp this week about our focus and our mindset and, at the end of the day, we are all in it together.

Scotland Under-20s are looking to bounce back under Kenny Murray.Scotland Under-20s are looking to bounce back under Kenny Murray.
Scotland Under-20s are looking to bounce back under Kenny Murray.

“It is not the players’ fault these results, it is not any individual’s fault, we are all in this together and that’s been our mindset this week. The boys took the review on the chin and I can’t fault their efforts this week. We want to come out versus Italy and restore a bit of pride.”

For the match, hooker Jerry Blyth-Lafferty, tighthead prop Eben Cairns, second-rows Eddie Erskine and Ruaraidh Hart, back-row Sam Derrick, fit again half backs Ben Afshar and Richie Simpson and winger Kerr Johnston are all handed starts.

Scotland under-20 squad: Dan King; Kerr Johnston, Duncan Munn (C-C), Kerr Yule, Geordie Gwynn; Richie Simpson, Ben Afshar; Craig Davidson, Jerry Blyth-Lafferty, Eben Cairns, Eddie Erskine, Ruaraidh Hart, Liam McConnell (C-C), Sam Derrick, Jonny Morris. Subs: Corey Tait, Max Surry, Robbie Deans, Harris McLeod, Ewan Guy, Charlie Clare, Ben Salmon, Will Robinson.