Scotland and Wales have announced their line-ups for tomorrow’s 5th-8th place semi final at the World Rugby U20 Championships (3pm kick off).
Scotland finished second in Group B, beating Ireland and Italy and showing up well in defeat to New Zealand, while Wales were third in Group A behind England and Australia, but ahead of Samoa.
The winner of tomorrow’s game will meet the winner of the other semi final between Australia and Italy, and will play for 5th place. The losers will play the losers of that other semi final, competing for 7th place.
Scotland’s side is unchanged from their exciting win over Italy last time out, with the hugely exciting back row trio of Blair Kinghorn, Darcy Graham, and Harlequins’ Robbie Nairn all worth keeping an eye on.
Nairn’s fellow Aviva Premiership star, Wasps Connor Eastgate, continues at ten. They are two of five Exiles in the starting fifteen, with Bishop Burton College’s George Thornton at loosehead, Gloucester’s Alex Craig in the second row alongside captain Call Hunter-Hill, and Tom Dodd at number 8.
Dodd lines up in an exciting back row, which includes Luke Crosbie at blindside and the superb Matt Fagerson, younger brother of Scotland senior international, Zander, at openside.
Fraser Renwick and Adam Nicol join Thornton in the front row, with Andrew Simmers at scrum half, while Stafford McDowall and Ross McCann are again the centre pairing.
Should Scotland win tomorrow, they will be guaranteed their best ever finish at the World Rugby U20 Championships, either fifth or sixth. Wales, meanwhile, will not be able to repeat their best effort, having reached the main final back in 2013.
In contrast to Scotland’s steady selection, Wales have made six changes to their side following Thursday’s win over Samoa.
Dane Blacker and Arwel Robson come in to fill the half back spots, with Ellis Shipp coming in at hooker, and Will Griffiths coming in at lock. Ryan Conbeer comes in on the left wing, while the former Solihull School star, Will Talbot-Davies, returns at full back.
Owen Lane and Ioan Nichols continue in the centres, with Jared Rosser on the right wing, while Rhys Carre and Kieron Assiratti continue at prop. Sean Moore joins Griffiths in the second row, with Will Jones continuing to captain the side from openside, Alex Ward and Shane Lewis-Hughes join him in the back row.
Both sides include Exiles on the bench, with Wales selecting Bath flanker Sid Blackmore, and Scotland selecting Newcastle Falcons’ Archie Erskine.
Both coaches spoke of the opportunity that lay ahead, with Scotland head coach John Dalziel saying:
“There is an opportunity to make history in tomorrow’s game, but, first and foremost, the focus will be on our own performance and performing to the levels we have set. We played some outstanding rugby at times against Italy, but we also made things hard for ourselves at certain times. However, the players dug deep in very challenging conditions, and we will need to have that same belief and dogged determination against Wales.”
“[Wales] have shown they’re a good side in this tournament, but we’ve also shown that we’ve got the ability to rise to the big occasion and we’ll need to do just that if we’re to get the result we all desire tomorrow.”
Wales’ head coach, Jason Strange, meanwhile said:
“The players that came in did really well against Samoa but with the way this tournament is structured it’s important to keep refreshing the players both physically and mentally. Hopefully they will bring a lot of energy against Scotland.”
“We’re confident. We are pleased with the way we have played throughout the tournament, particularly against Australia but there are certainly opportunities to get better. We judge ourselves internally and as long as we hit those performance levels then the result will take care of itself.”
“We know Scotland well but they have definitely got better through the tournament. They pose a real attacking threat from their lineout and they have some good individual players so we certainly won’t be underestimating them. It will be a real challenge. The important thing for us is the quality of experience the players get in the tournament and if we get another opportunity to play Australia, who are an outstanding team, probably a top four team, then that is fantastic for us.”
Scotland U20 v Wales U20 – Tuesday 13th June, 3pm kick off (BST) – Live on www.worldrugby.org (5th-8th place semi final)
Scotland U20 XV:
15 Blair Kinghorn
14 Robbie Nairn
13 Ross McCann
12 Stafford McDowall
11 Darcy Graham
10 Connor Eastgate
9 Andrew Simmers
1 George Thornton
2 Fraser Renwick
3 Adam Nicol
4 Alex Craig
5 Callum Hunter-Hill (captain)
6 Luke Crosbie
7 Matt Fagerson
8 Tom Dodd
Replacements: 16 Robbie Smith, 17 Fergus Bradbury, 18 Daniel Winning, 19 Hamish Bain, 20 Archie Erskine, 21 Charlie Shiel, 22 Josh Henderson, 23 Lewis Berg.
Wales U20 XV:
15 Will Talbot-Davies (Newport Gwent Dragons)
14 Jared Rosser (Newport Gwent Dragons)
13 Ioan Nicholas (Scarlets)
12 Owen Lane (Cardiff Blues)
11 Ryan Conbeer (Scarlets)
10 Arwel Robson (Newport Gwent Dragons)
9 Dane Blacker (Cardiff Blues);
1 Rhys Carre (Cardiff Blues)
2 Ellis Shipp (Newport Gwent Dragons)
3 Kieron Assiratti (Cardiff Blues)
4 Will Griffiths (Ospreys)
5 Sean Moore (Pontypridd)
6 Shane Lewis-Hughes (Cardiff Blues)
7 Will Jones Ospreys – Capt)
8 Aled Ward (Cardiff Blues)
Replacements: 16 Owen Hughes (Newport Gwent Dragons), 17 Tom Mably (Cardiff Blues), 18 Steff Thomas (Scarlets), 19 Callum Bradbury (Cardiff Blues), 20 Syd Blackmore (Bath Rugby), 21 Reuben Morgan-Williams (Ospreys), 22 Connor Edwards (Newport Gwent Dragons), 23 Phil Jones (Ospreys).
2017 World Rugby U20 Championship Fixtures & Results (all times BST):
Semi Finals – Tuesday 13th June (1st-4th, 5th-8th, and 9th-12th)
Ireland (10th) v Samoa (11th) – 10am kick off
Argentina (9th) v Georgia (12th) – 12.30pm kick off
Australia (5th) v Italy (8th) – 12.30pm kick off
Scotland (6th) v Wales (7th) – 3pm kick off
England (2nd) v South Africa (3rd) – 3pm kick off
New Zealand (1st) v France (4th) – 5.30pm kick off
Finals – Sunday 18th June
|Round 1 – Wednesday 31st May|
|Pool A||Pool B||Pool C|
|Australia 24-17 Wales||Ireland 21-22 Italy||Argentina 37-26 Georgia|
|England 74-17 Samoa||New Zealand 42-20 Scotland||South Africa 23-23 France|
|Round 2 – Sunday 4th June|
|Pool A||Pool B||Pool C|
|Australia 33-26 Samoa||Ireland 28-32 Scotland||Argentina 25-26 France|
|England 34-22 Wales||New Zealand 68-26 Italy||South Africa 38-14 Georgia|
|Round 3 – Thursday 8th June|
|Pool A||Pool B||Pool C|
|England 20-19 Australia||Ireland 3-69 New Zealand||Argentina 14-72 South Africa|
|Wales 54-20 Samoa||Scotland 17-16 Italy||France 54-0 Georgia|
2017 World Rugby U20 Championship Final Group Standings: