After shocking the rugby fraternity Ireland who claimed the scalp of a highly-rated England u/20 team in the opening round must be the betting man's favourite. Today the Ireland Under-20s take their U-20 Six Nations challenge on the road to Galashiels where they come up against a Scottish side smarting from a 32-22 defeat at the hands of Italy.
Scotland, on the other hand, played a fast-moving, direct type of rugby and really looked good. Unfortunately, lapses in defence and attack at critical moments cost them against an ever-improving Italian side who is looking more and more confident in letting the ball do the work without losing their ruggedness.
If Scotland wants to win they will have to counter the Irish at the breakdown. The resulting turnovers enabled Ireland to run at the English team with great success. Scotland will have to come out firing from the first minute and not allow the Irish to establish an early lead.
Ireland’s starting XV shows just one change to the side that defeated England 35-27 in Cork last week. Cormac Foley, the scorer of the match-winning try in Cork, is promoted from the bench to start at scrum-half, replacing vice-captain Craig Casey who is ruled out through injury.
Shannon prop Luke Masters and Buccaneers’ Colm Reilly, who provides back-up for Foley at scrum-half, have been added to the replacements and both will be looking to win their first Ireland Under-20 caps at the home ground of Gala RFC.
Watsonians and Scottish Academy full-back Rufus McLean is one of three changes to the Scotland U-20 team, rewarded for his late try off the bench against Italy as he replaces Ollie Smith in the number 15 jersey.
Head coach Carl Hogg brings in Sale Sharks' Ewan Ashman at hooker, with Finlay Scott sidelined through injury, while Charlie Jupp shifts to blindside flanker, allowing Stirling County lock Cameron Henderson to partner Ewan Johnson in the second row.
The incoming Ashman packs down with Sam Grahamslaw and Murphy Walker in the front row, and South African-born number 8 Kwagga van Niekerk, who moves from 6-8, anchors a back row featuring flankers Connor Boyle, who is once again named as captain, and Jupp.
SCOTLAND U-20: Rufus McLean (Watsonians); Rory McMichael (Heriot's), Cameron Anderson (Wasps), Robbie McCallum (Complutense Cisneros), Jack Blain (Heriot's); Ross Thompson (Glasgow Hawks), Roan Frostwick (Currie Chieftains); Sam Grahamslaw (Leicester Tigers), Ewan Ashman (Sale Sharks), Murphy Walker (Stirling County), Cameron Henderson (Stirling County), Ewan Johnson (Racing 92), Charlie Jupp (Heriot's), Connor Boyle (Watsonians) (capt), Kwagga Van Niekerk (Lions).
Replacements: Angus Fraser (Glasgow Hawks), Andrew Nimmo (Glasgow Hawks), Euan McLaren (Ayr), Ross Bundy (Stirling County), Jack Mann (Edinburgh Accies), Kyle McGhie (Musselburgh), Nathan Chamberlain (Bristol Bears), Matt Davidson (London Scottish).
IRELAND U-20: Jake Flannery (Shannon/Munster); Conor Phillips (Young Munster/Munster), Liam Turner (Dublin University/Leinster), David Hawkshaw (Clontarf/Leinster) (capt), Jonathan Wren (Cork Constitution/Munster); Harry Byrne (Lansdowne/Leinster), Cormac Foley (St. Mary’s College/Leinster); Josh Wycherley (Young Munster/Munster), Dylan Tierney-Martin (Corinthians/Connacht), Thomas Clarkson (Dublin University/Leinster), Charlie Ryan (UCD/Leinster), Niall Murray (Buccaneers/Connacht), Martin Moloney (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Scott Penny (UCD/Leinster), John Hodnett (UCC/Munster).
Replacements: John McKee (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Michael Milne (UCD/Leinster), Luke Masters (Shannon/Munster), Brian Deeny (Clontarf/Leinster), David McCann (Banbridge/Ulster), Colm Reilly (Buccaneers/Connacht), Sean French (Cork Constitution/Munster), Rob Russell (Dublin University/Leinster).
Referee: Andrea Piardi (Italy)
Assistant Referees: Federico Vedovelli, Gianluca Gnecchi (both Italy)