Scotland Under-20 Look To Get Back On Track In Inverness

International rugby returns to the Highlands on Friday night as Scotland under-20 take on their Irish counterparts at Tulloch Caledonian Stadium (kick-off 7.30pm, admission FREE) in a crunch 6 Nations Championship fixture.

Peter Wright’s team will be seeking a repeat of the result from the last meeting between the sides on Scottish soil, a 35-20 home win at McDiarmid Park two years ago.

International rugby returns to the Highlands on Friday night as Scotland under-20 take on their Irish counterparts at Tulloch Caledonian Stadium (kick-off 7.30pm, admission FREE) in a crunch 6 Nations Championship fixture.

Peter Wright’s team will be seeking a repeat of the result from the last meeting between the sides on Scottish soil, a 35-20 home win at McDiarmid Park two years ago.

They will also look to call on the support of a vocal Inverness crowd, who turned out in excellent number and voice to help the young Scots to an 8-8 draw with France just over 12 months ago.

The under-20s have suffered defeat in both of their championship fixtures to date, but head coach Wright believes the welcome his troops will receive in the Highland Capital could be just the fillip their campaign requires.

He said: “Tulloch Caledonian Stadium is a magnificent venue for a match like this, and the guys will relish playing there, especially if the support is anything like what we saw and heard for the France game last year.

“I was forwards coach for that one, and it really was a terrific occasion. I’ve no doubt the backing we got from the crowd really helped the boys achieve what was an encouraging result, and we’ll be looking for more of the same on both counts come Friday.

“In terms of the scorelines, we’ve been disappointed with the two games so far [against France and Wales], but in both matches there were positive elements and individual showings that we can take forward to build upon.

“Friday is going to be another really tough challenge for all concerned, and Ireland will come into the game with confidence having beaten us in the 6 Nations and the IRB Junior World Championship last year.

“We need to show we’re progressing game by game, developing both as individuals and as a group, and I’ll be looking to the guys to start the match in a positive fashion to really get the crowd on-side and set ourselves up for the rest of the game.”

Wright’s starting line-up for the game shows three changes from the 33-3 loss to Wales at Bridgehaugh, Stirling on February 11.

Stuart Hogg, who began that game at outside centre, is part of the Glasgow Warriors squad for their Magners League fixtures against Dragons at Firhill on Friday, and so Mark Bennett, his Warriors teammate, moves from 12 to 13.

Stuart Edwards of Stirling County, will make his Scotland under-20 debut at stand-off, with Harry Leonard reverting to inside centre. The 18-year-old (pictured), who has just signed an Elite Development contract at Edinburgh, will also captain the side.

Wright explained: “Harry is obviously still quite young, but he’s extremely vocal and not afraid to give his teammates a tough time if he feels it’s appropriate.

“He’s a mature rugby player and a mature guy, and we want to harness the leadership qualities that he has to the benefit of the team.

“Stuart will provide a strong all-round game at 10. He can run the ball, he can get the backline moving and he also has a good kicking game. He’s been chomping at the bit for an opportunity and now has to grasp it.”

Up front, two switches see Colin Phillips, another Edinburgh Elite Development Player, replace George Hunter at tight-head prop and Team Northumbria hooker David Cherry take the place of Richard Ferguson.

Wright said: “Colin and David have impressed off the bench and deserve an opportunity. We want to bring stability to our scrum and consistency to our lineout, and those two will be key to that effort.

“George has led the team well in the two games so far and remains a key part of our leadership group. We’re looking for other players to put their hand up in that regard this week because Ireland will be gunning for us and we need to be ready to fight fire with fire.”

As with all home Scotland A, under-20, Club International, under-18, under-17 and Scotland Women fixtures this season, admission to Friday’s match at Tulloch Caledonian Stadium, Inverness, is FREE.

SCOTLAND UNDER-20 TEAM TO PLAY IRELAND UNDER-20 IN THE 6 NATIONS CHAMPIONSHIP AT TULLOCH CALEDONIAN STADIUM, INVERNESS ON FRIDAY 25 FEBRUARY (KICK-OFF 7.30PM, ADMISSION FREE)

15 Glenn Bryce (Heriot’s)

14 Mike Doneghan (Glasgow Warriors/Stirling County)
13 Mark Bennett (Glasgow Warriors/Ayr)
12 Harry Leonard (Edinburgh/Boroughmuir, CAPTAIN)
11 Kerr Gossman (Glasgow Warriors/Glasgow Hawks)

10 Stuart Edwards (Stirling County)
9 Jamie Stevenson (Westcombe Park)

1 Robin Hislop (Edinburgh/Boroughmuir)
2 David Cherry (Team Northumbria)
3 Colin Phillips (Edinburgh/Stewart’s Melville)
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 Richard Ferguson (Melrose)
17 George Hunter (Glasgow Warriors/Glasgow Hawks)
18 Andy Kirkland (Glasgow Hawks)
19 Mitch Eadie (Filton College)
20 Sean Kennedy (Stirling County)
21 Craig Jackson (Melrose)
22 Sam Atkin (Edinburgh Accies)

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