WALES’ brightest young talents pitch up in Inverness tonight with an unbeaten record and one eye on a potential Grand Slam clash with England in a week’s time.
But their coach Danny Wilson warned his youngsters against underestimating the talent emerging in Sean Lineen’s young Scottish squad.
“This Scotland side is the best Scottish age-grade side I’ve seen in a good few years,” he said. “They’ve beaten Italy and Ireland and ran England close, so we are going to have to be at the top of our game to come away with a result. The set-piece is key, as it has been throughout our Six Nations campaign, and hopefully the weather will be an improvement on the conditions in Italy and allow us to play some attacking rugby.”
The Welsh have lost the talented Cardiff stand-off Rhys Patchell to injury, but can call on Blues winger Harry Robinson, who scored a try on his senior Wales debut against the Barbarians last June, Dragons No 8 Ieuan Jones and Scarlets centre Steffan Hughes.
Lineen is confident that his team has the ability to build on wins over Italy and Ireland and claim a rare hat-trick of victories.
The return of Glasgow centre Mark Bennett to the midfield is a key reason for that, as is hooker Russell Anderson’s return to fitness. Ruaridh Young and Boroughmuir winger Damien Hoyland showed their skills in attack and defence in the Irish win, and with Scotland sevens cap Rory Hughes on the other wing they present a similarly dangerous back three to the senior side.
Tommy Allan is also coming on to a game at stand-off, while Ali Price steps in at scrum-half. Shawn Muir, the Hawick loosehead, is handed his chance to prove his worth in the starting line-up, with Ayr’s D’arcy Rae on the tighthead, and Jonny Gray and Ruaridh Leishman in the second row.
Scotland U20s: R Young (Edinburgh Accies), D Hoyland (Boro’muir), C Auld (Gala), M Bennett (Glasgow), R Hughes (Scotland 7s), T Allan (unattached), A Price (Bedford), S Muir (Hawick), R Anderson (Gala), D Rae (Ayr), R Leishman (Edinburgh Accies), J Gray (Glasgow) capt, A Henderson (Boro’muir), W Bordill (Sale), A Ashe (Glasgow). Subs: C Black (Edinburgh Accies), J Bhatti (Stirling Co), P Cringle (Edinburgh), C Turner (Aberdeen Grammar), T Spinks (London Scottish), S Steele (Leicester), R Fergusson (Ayr), K Buchan (Boro’muir).
Wales U20s: J Williams (Scarlets), H Robinson (Blues), C Allen (Blues), S Hughes (Scarlets), A Warren (Llandovery); Sam Davies (Ospreys/Swansea), R Williams (Scarlets); G Thomas (Scarlets), E Lewis (Blues), N Thomas (Ospreys), C Jones (Scarlets), Rhodri Hughes (Ospreys), Ellis Jenkins (capt, Blues), D Thomas (Scarlets), I Jones (Dragons). Subs: E Dee (Bedwas), N Smith (Ospreys), D Suter (Ospreys), J Jones (Ospreys), J Benjamin (Bedwas), J Davies (Dragons), J Dixon (Dragons), H Amos (Dragons).