Wright Calls For Positive Reaction

Scotland under-20 head coach Peter Wright has challenged his players to show they have learned the lessons from defeat to France last weekend as they seek to get their home 6 Nations Championship campaign off to a winning start against Wales at Bridgehaugh, Stirling on Friday (kick-off 7.30pm, admission FREE).

Five days ago in Caen, the Scots showed tantalising glimpses of their attacking potential, but didn’t enjoy enough sustained possession to establish a real foothold in the match.

Scotland under-20 head coach Peter Wright has challenged his players to show they have learned the lessons from defeat to France last weekend as they seek to get their home 6 Nations Championship campaign off to a winning start against Wales at Bridgehaugh, Stirling on Friday (kick-off 7.30pm, admission FREE).

Five days ago in Caen, the Scots showed tantalising glimpses of their attacking potential, but didn’t enjoy enough sustained possession to establish a real foothold in the match.

Wright has identified the contact area as key to Friday’s game, believing that if his men impose themselves in the collisions and establish a regular supply of quick ball, the quality they possess in the backs will tell.

The former British and Irish Lions and Scotland prop confirmed: “We’ve been doing a lot of work on contact and also the set-piece, because we feel that if we establish the right sort of platform, we’ve got players there behind the scrum who can really hurt other teams.

“France were very physical opponents and got on top of us in the collisions, so it’s vital that we don’t give Wales the same sort of advantage in Stirling. We know they have a big front five and back row, plus centres who like to take the ball on, so we’ll need to be prepared for that and react accordingly.

“Keeping hold of the ball is the other main task for us this weekend. We were up at 87% in terms of successful tackles against the French, but the number we had to attempt [183] shows that we just didn’t have enough possession. We were on the back foot for too long in the game, and it’s vital that we avoid that happening again on Friday night.”

Wright has opted for “more bulk” in the back row, Alex Spence of Heriot’s coming in at blindside flanker with Bath’s James Tyas moving to No.8.

The front five that started in Normandy are retained en-masse, while, behind the scrum, there are three positional switches and one change in personnel. Heriot’s full-back Glen Bryce makes his first Scotland under-20 start at the home of his former club side, Stirling County, with Stuart Hogg moving to outside centre. Inside him will be Mark Bennett, who started at 13 in Caen and proceeded to score a try on his 18th birthday.

Last week’s inside centre, Harry Leonard, will start at stand-off against the Welsh, with Craig Jackson of Melrose dropping to the bench.

Wright explained: “Harry has excellent hands, and will be able to get the ball away from contact quickly. We’ll be looking to him to put the ball through the hands and get both the team and the crowd going.

“Stuart Hogg is a quality performer, and we want him more involved in the game so that he can bring that influence to bear. We want him to bring our outside backs into play, and he has all the necessary skills to go that.

“Mark stood up really well on debut in France, and he will bring us physicality in midfield, as well a really good attacking option in the 12 channel.

“If we can impose the game we want to play, it should be a cracking match for the crowd to enjoy. There’s a strong rugby community in the Stirling area, and I’d urge them all to turn out on Friday and help us come through what will be another challenging test.”

After last week’s emotional pre-game trip to Sword Beach, scene of one of the most famous Scottish involvements in the D-Day landing, Scotland under-20 will tomorrow pay a visit to the Wallace Monument, where those players making their first appearance for the team will be presented with their match jersey.

As with all Scotland A, under-20, Club International, under-18, under-17 and Scotland Women home games this season, admission to Friday’s match at Bridgehaugh will be FREE.

SCOTLAND UNDER-20 TEAM TO PLAY WALES IN 6 NATIONS CHAMPIONSHIP AT BRIDGEHAUGH, STIRLING ON FRIDAY 11 FEBRUARY (KICK-OFF 7.30PM, ADMISSION FREE)

15 Glenn Bryce (Heriot’s)

14 Mike Doneghan (Glasgow Warriors/Stirling County)
13 Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors/Hawick)
12 Mark Bennett (Glasgow Warriors/Ayr)
11 Kerr Gossman (Glasgow Warriors/Glasgow Hawks)

10 Harry Leonard (Boroughmuir)
9 Jamie Stevenson (Westcombe Park)

1 Robin Hislop (Edinburgh/Boroughmuir)
2 Richard Ferguson (Melrose)
3 George Hunter (Glasgow Warriors/Glasgow Hawks, CAPTAIN)
4 Mitchell Todd (Nottingham)
5 Robert McAlpine (West of Scotland)
6 Alex Spence (Heriot’s)
8 James Tyas (Bath)
7 Hamish Watson (Leicester Tigers)

SUBSTITUTES

16 David Cherry (Team Northumbria)
17 Colin Phillips (Edinburgh/Stewart’s Melville)
18 Andy Kirkland (Glasgow Hawks)
19 Mitch Eadie (Filton College)
20 Sean Kennedy (Stirling County)
21 Craig Jackson (Melrose)
22 Tom Steven (Glasgow Hawks)

SCOTLAND UNDER-20 FIXTURES, SEASON 2010/11

6 Nations Championship

Friday 4 February, Stade Velodrome de Venoix, Caen, kick-off 7pm (local time): France under-20 v Scotland under-20
Friday 11 February, Bridgehaugh, kick-off 7.30pm: Scotland under-20 v Wales under-20
Friday 25 February, Tulloch Caledonian Stadium, Inverness, kick-off 7.30pm: Scotland under-20 v Ireland under-20
Friday 11 March, Newbury RFC, kick-off 7.45pm: England under-20 v Scotland under-20
Friday 18 March, Bridgehaugh, kick-off 7.30pm: Scotland under-20 v Italy under-20

3-27 June, Italy, IRB Junior World Championship