Scots Aim For Final Push Against Italians

Scotland under-20 will seek to finish their 6 Nations Championship campaign in rousing fashion when they return to Bridgehaugh, Stirling to face their Italian counterparts on Friday night (kick-off 7.30pm, admission FREE).

The Scots’ performances have shown steady improvement throughout the tournament, but Peter Wright’s side are still to claim a first win.

Scotland under-20 will seek to finish their 6 Nations Championship campaign in rousing fashion when they return to Bridgehaugh, Stirling to face their Italian counterparts on Friday night (kick-off 7.30pm, admission FREE).

The Scots’ performances have shown steady improvement throughout the tournament, but Peter Wright’s side are still to claim a first win.

The under-20 head coach today emphasised the importance of breaking this duck come the weekend, as he named a team bearing one change from that which suffered defeat against England at Newbury last Friday night.

Wright confirmed: “I’ve been reasonably happy with parts of our game over the last few matches, but for any number of reasons it’s vital that we convert that improvement into a win against the Italians.

“First and foremost, it would give the players real belief, and real proof, that what we’re doing is working, and that’s particularly important given what’s coming up in June, with the IRB Junior World Championship in Italy.

“We want something tangible to take forward into the tournament, and beating Italy would provide that. It would also be great to give something back to the supporters, who gave us great backing at Bridgehaugh the last time [against Wales last month] and in Inverness [against Ireland].

“That said, we’re under no illusions about how difficult a task winning this game will be. Italy are similar to the French side who beat us on the first weekend of the championship, in that they’re big, physical and will seek to bully us.

“Our work in contact has been getting better; we’re not missing as many tackles and we’re showing more composure. We need to go up another level again on Friday, because Italy will pose a massive challenge in that area of the game.

“Against England, we kept the ball for longer in attack, and if we can do that again this weekend, we’ll give ourselves a good chance of winning the match, because we’ll be putting the Italian defensive structure under real and sustained pressure.”

The single personnel change sees Edinburgh Accies winger Sam Atkin make his first Scotland under-20 start on the back of several promising cameos as a replacement.

Kerr Gossman, who has started all four 6 Nations matches to date, drops to the bench, where he will have for company Heriot’s back-rower Lawrie Seydak, who is set to make his under-20 debut.

Wright explained: “Sam has come on a number of times and run hard; he’s a guy who challenges defences. Again in light of the IRB Junior World Championship, we need to see what he can do over a longer period, and it will also be good for Lawrie to get an idea of what’s required at this level.

“He trained with us the week before the England game and really impressed us with his work rate and his size. He’s an openside, but has the ability to slot into any of the back-row positions, and versatility is something we’ll need to take into account come June, when we’ll probably be travelling with a squad of 26.

“We could end up facing Italy in that tournament as well, so that’s another reason to really step up and deliver on Friday night.”

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

As Friday is Red Nose Day, Stirling County RFC and Scottish Rugby will be carrying out a charity collection in aid of Comic Relief.

SCOTLAND UNDER-20 TEAM TO PLAY ITALY UNDER-20 AT BRIDGEHAUGH, STIRLING ON FRIDAY 18 MARCH (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)
11 Sam Atkin (Edinburgh Accies)

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

1 Robin Hislop (Edinburgh/Boroughmuir)
2 David Cherry (Team Northumbria)
3 George Hunter (Glasgow Warriors/Glasgow Hawks, CAPTAIN)
4 Mitch Eadie (Filton College)
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 Nick Fraser (Boroughmuir)
18 Mitchell Todd (Nottingham)
19 Lawrie Seydak (Heriot’s)
20 James Munro (Edinburgh Accies)
21 Craig Jackson (Melrose)
22 Kerr Gossman (Glasgow Warriors/Glasgow Hawks)

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 8pm: 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