Gavin Harper February 6, 2019
Scotland U20 Head Coach Carl Hogg believes his side will need to be at their best if they are to beat their Irish counterparts at Netherdale on Friday evening.
Hogg has made three changes to the team that lost to Italy in round one, introducing Sale Sharks Ewan Ashman at hooker, and Stirling County lock Cameron Henderson also comes into the side, with Heriot’s Charlie Jupp switching to the blindside flank as Jack Mann drops to the bench.
Hogg said of that change: “It was about looking to get people some opportunities. Looking at the balance I the back five of the scrum, we’ve got some good athletes in there.
“We’ve got Ewan Johnson, who is a really good tight-five forward, so it is about utilising Charlie Jupp and Cammy Henderson. I see Connor Boyle as an out-and-out seven, and Kwagga Van Niekirk gives us that power, so I think it just gives us a bit more balance in the back-row.”
Hogg also hopes Jupp will “add value” to the back-row. He continued: “He’s probably a modern-day hybrid who can play both second-row and number six. He’s got a huge work-ethic, he’s got good detail and he gives lots of energy to the group.”
Scott, meanwhile, is ruled out of both the Ireland match and the remainder of the championship – with a dislocated shoulder suffered in the defeat to Italy.
“He’ll be out for a significant period of time. We’re still waiting to hear if it will be a surgical procedure,” Hogg said today (Wednesday).
The other change to the starting XV is at fullback, where a calf problem keeps Ayr’s Ollie Smith out so Watsonians’ Rufus McLean comes into the side, while Matt Davidson of London Scottish comes takes McLean’s vacated spot on the bench.
Hogg said “Ollie didn’t train at the start of the week and I thought Rufus looked particularly sharp off the bench having been out for a wee while. It will be interesting to see him getting up to match speed on Friday night.”
The former back-row man believes Ireland’s U20 side will play much as the senior international team do, and knows his side will need to step up having lost to the Italians in their opener.
“They’ve got high line-speed, they like to stay nice and compressed defensively and challenge you round the breakdown,l he said.
“They’ve got a very intense, suffocating defence, and they’ve got really good basic skills. We watched their game on Friday night and they look a very competent side, so we’ll have to be at our best to challenge them on Friday.
“They’ve got threats over the ball defensively, all the time from one to 15, which is pretty unique for teams. They’ve got high line-speed, but that does offer opportunities, and I think the English Test team exploited that particularly well last Saturday, so that’s clearly an area we have identified and an area we are looking to challenge.
And the Scotland U20 coach remains confident that his side will be ab,e to go up a few gears, adding: “I think there is huge room for improvement for us.
“You’re never quite sure how much information and how many behaviours from training hold going into a match, but we’ve clearly identified things we can work on and things we can do better, and we’re looking forward to putting that into practice on Friday.”
Scotland U20 squad to play Ireland: 15 Rufus McLean (Watsonians), 14 Rory McMichael (Heriot’s), 13 Cameron Anderson (Wasps), 12 Robbie McCallum (Complutense Cisneros), 11 Jack Blain (Heriot’s), 10 Ross Thompson (Glasgow Hawks), 9 Roan Frostwick (Currie Chieftains); 1 Sam Grahamslaw (Leicester Tigers), 2 Ewan Ashman (Sale Sharks), 3 Murphy Walker (Stirling County), 4 Cameron Henderson (Stirling County), 5 Ewan Johnson (Racing 92), 6 Charlie Jupp (Heriot’s), 8 Kwagga van Niekerk (Lions)
Replacements: 16 Angus Fraser (Glasgow Hawks), 17 Andrew Nimmo (Glasgow Hawks), 18 Euan McLaren (Ayr), 19 Ross Bundy (Stirling County), 20 Jack Mann (Edinburgh Accies), 21 Kyle McGhie (Musselburgh), 22 Nathan Chamberlain (Bristol Bears), 23 Matt Davidson (London Scottish)
Updated 19:18 - 6 Feb 2019 by Hugh Barrow