Head coach Eddie Pollock has made six changes to the Scotland under-18 team to face Italy in the FIRA-AER European Championships fifth/sixth-placed playoff in Plewiska, Poland tomorrow (19 April, kick-off 10am UK time).
Scotland under-18 team to play Italy under-18
FIRA European Championships fifth/sixth-placed playoff
Plewiska, Poland (kick-off 10am UK time)
15 Ruairi Howarth (Gala Academy / Gala)
14 Reuben Norville (St. Pauls School / London Irish)
13 Adam Hastings (Millfield School)
12 George Taylor (Loretto School / Melrose)
11 Ben Robbins (George Watson’s College)
10 Rory Hutchinson (Northampton Saints / Shelford)
9 Andrew Manson (Stewart’s Melville College)
1 Murray McCallum (Strathallan / Dunfermline)
2 Jake Kerr * (George Watson’s College / Watsonians)
3 Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Hawks)
4 Jamie Ritchie * (Strathallan / Howe of Fife) CAPTAIN
5 Andrew Davidson (Kelvinside Academy / Glasgow Hawks)
6 Scott Burnside * (Heriot’s)
7 Matthew Smith (Stirling County)
8 Ally Miller * (George Watson’s College / Watsonians)
16 Lewis Anderson (Marr College / Ayr)
17 Gary Robertson (Gala Academy / Gala)
18 Callum Sheldon (Queen Elizabeth School / Newcastle Falcons)
19 Callum Hunter-Hill (Stewart’s Melville College)
20 Lewis Wynne (St. Mungo's High School / Stirling County)
21 Hugh Fraser * (Merchiston Castle School)
22 Josh Laird (Strathallan School / Kirkcaldy)
23 Saul Melvin-Farr (Edinburgh Academy) *
* Scottish Institute of Sport supported player 2013/14
The young Scots bounced back from a narrow, quarter-final loss to Wales (23-21) to register a six-try, 35-11 victory over Portugal, with today’s revised selection looking to continue that performance against the Italians, who saw off Georgia (15-13) after their round one loss to France (29-7).
Pollock said: “Obviously we want to finish as high as we can and show that we’re on a par with the likes of France and Wales, as the teams have been very close this year.
“We want to be up there and show that we’re a strong squad and are worthy of a place among those considered to be in the top bracket.
“The performance tomorrow is really important for us to demonstrate that.”
The changes are split evenly between the backs and forwards, with Ruari Howarth (full-back), Reubin Norville (wing) and Andrew Manson (scrum-half) returning to the starting line-up in place of Saul Melvin-Farr, Robbie Nairn and Hugh Fraser.
In the pack, front-row duo Jake Kerr (hooker) and Murray McCallum (prop), and lock Andrew Davidson, come in for Lewis Anderson, Gary Robertson and Callum Hunter-Hill.
Speaking on selection, Pollock added: “We’ve got a strong bench, with all the players having a good amount of game time, so we’re comfortable with these guys coming on and doing a job.
“Italy are strong in the scrum and have a strong driving lineout, as you might expect, but they try and play a lot of rugby and offload a lot, which I think is a theme that’s moving down from their senior team.
“They [Italy] have been moving the ball a lot so we’re looking forward to it, it should be a really good game of rugby.”
Scotland U18 (6-28) England U18, Dalziel Park
Ireland U18 (26-6) Scotland U18, Ashbrook, Dublin
Scotland U18 (21-23) Wales U18
Scotland under-18 (35-11) Portugal under-18
Saturday 19 April - Scotland under-18 v Italy under-18, fifth/sixth-placed playoff in Plewiska, Poland (kick-off 10am UK time)