Changes made as Under-20s eye unblemished home record

Scotland under-20 will look to preserve their unbeaten record at home this year as they welcome Ireland to Netherdale, on Friday night (kick-off 7.30pm).

The junior Dark Blues have recorded victories against Wales and Italy in Galashiels this season, and a win against the men in green will see them close the tournament with an untarnished home-record.

Head Coach, Sean Lineen, said: “There has always been a belief in this group that we can do something special, and to win all three games at home would be huge for us.

“These boys have displayed some real flair, and, especially against Wales, a grit and desire to win in the Scotland shirt. I think this is reflected in their results so far.

“No Scotland under-20 side has won three Championship games at home since 2009, and a victory could see us grab our highest tournament finish to date, so that is what we’re targeting.

“However, we know how difficult this will be against a battle hardened Irish outfit who are well drilled and never give an inch.

"They have a strong, competitive set piece and, as always, are a handful at the breakdown so we will have to be very accurate.”

Some six changes have been from the side who were defeated 26-11 by England last week, to take to the field for the final match of the tournament.

Captain Jamie Ritchie is forced to drop out due to a head knock sustained against England, with Ally Miller replacing him at openside flanker to make his first start of the tournament.

Magnus Bradbury takes on captaincy duties from the injured Jamie Ritchie

In Ritchie’s absence, his back-row partner and Edinburgh Rugby club-mate Magnus Bradbury, will take on captaincy duties. Neil Irvine Hess retains his starting spot in the blindside berth.   

Scott Cummings takes the place of his Glasgow Hawks cohort Andrew Davidson, to join Lewis Carmichael in the boiler room.

The front-row remains as previous with Murray McCallum and Zander Fagerson packing down at prop, and Sam James at hooker.

The only change to the starting back-line comes at centre with Tom Galbraith – a replacement  in the previous four games – partnering Patrick Kelly, in place of Archie Russell.  

The half-back pairing of George Horne and Rory Hutchinson will finish the tournament having started every Championship match together in the nine and ten jersey respectively.

Last week’s try-scorer, Ben Robbins, continues on the right wing, with Alec Coombes and Ruairi Howarth completing the back-three trio.

Ruairi Knott takes a spot on the bench as back-row cover, as prop Gary Robertson returns to the match-day 23 at the expense of Jack Owlett.

After impressing in the Scotland under-19 development match against Japan, Richard Galloway wears the number 23 shirt.

Lineen continued:  “Some boys will move up from the bench this week, presenting a real opportunity for them to impress as a starter, as they have as a replacement in previous ties.

“We’ve got good depth in our ranks and know that the boys, from one to 23, will give absolutely everything on the day, and all have the ability to compete well at this level.

“Jamie [Ritchie] has been immense as captain but we know Magnus [Bradbury] will step up to the responsibility of skipper, and lead from the front.

When Magnus takes to the field on Friday, he will make his fifteenth appearance for Scotland under-20, so he knows exactly what it takes to set an example for the team to follow.”

Ireland were beaten 21-20 on their last visit to Netherdale, in 2013, by a Scotland side which included the likes of international caps Jonny Gray, Adam Ashe and Sam Hidalgo-Clyne.

 However, the visitors currently sit in third, one place above Scotland, with a superior points difference.

Lineen continued: “We know it’s going to be tough, but we’re looking to forward to what will be a fierce encounter against the Irish.  

“Hopefully we get a good crowd down to Netherdale, to get behind the boys and lift them to a third home victory for the season.”

Scotland under-20 v Ireland Under 20, Under-20 Six Nations Championship, Netherdale, Galashiels, kick-off 7.30pm

15 Ruairi Howarth (Edinburgh Rugby/Gala)

14 Ben Robbins (Edinburgh Rugby/Watsonians)
13 Tom Galbraith (Melrose)
12 Patrick Kelly (Le Parc)
11 Alec Coombes (London Scottish)

10 Rory Huthchinson (Northampton Saints)
9 George Horne (Glasgow Hawks)

1 Murray McCallum (Aberdeen Grammar Rugby)
2 Sam James (Wasps)
3 Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors/Glasgow Hawks)
4 Scott Cummings (Glasgow Warriors/Glasgow Hawks)
5 Lewis Carmichael (Melrose)
6 Neil Irvine-Hess (Melrose)
7 Ally Miller (Edinburgh Rugby/Watsonians)
8 Magnus Bradbury  CAPTAIN  (Edinburgh Rugby/Boroughmuir)

Replacements

16 Ross Graham (Hawick)
17 Dan Elkington (Watsonians)
18 Gary Robertson (Gala)
19 Andrew Davidson (Glasgow Warriors/Glasgow Hawks)
20 Ruairi Knott (Melrose)
21 Ben Vellacott (Gloucester/Hartpury College)
22 Archie Russell (Stirling County)
23 Richard Galloway (Birmingham University)

Scotland under-20 v Ireland under-20, Netherdale, Friday 20 February (kick-off 7.30pm) – Adult tickets £10, seniors (aged 60+) £5, concessions FREE. All Scotland season-pass holders gain entry to representative fixtures FREE of charge.