Scots must im­prove to take out Ital­ians

The Herald - Herald Sport - - RUGBY UNION -

JU­NIOR WORLD CHAM­PI­ONSHIP Things get se­ri­ous for the Scot­land un­der-20 side to­mor­row in the IRB Ju­nior World Cham­pi­onship when they face Italy in the ninth-place semi fi­nal at the ECOLight Sta­dium, Pukekohe, writes Alan Lorimer.

If Scot­land come out on top then they avoid rel­e­ga­tion and will make cer­tain of their place in the 2015 JWC be­ing held in Italy.

De­feat would not be the end, how­ever, as Scot­land would still have a chance of stay­ing in the top tier by achiev­ing vic­tory in the last round against the losers of to­mor­row’s other ninth-place semi-fi­nal be­tween Ar­gentina and Fiji which the young Pu­mas are favourites to win.

Scot­land’s ref­er­ence point for to­mor­row will be the Six Na­tions Cham­pi­onship match against the Ital­ians which re­sulted in a nar­row win for the young Az­zurri. Sean Li­neen, the head coach, will also have noted Italy’s per­for­mances in the group stages over the past two weeks. A heavy de­feat to Eng­land was fol­lowed by an in­spi­ra­tional dis­play in round two that gave the Ital­ians a con­fi­dence-lift­ing win, 29-26 over Ar­gentina. Then, in the fi­nal group match against Aus­tralia, Italy lost 29-3.

What has been im­pres­sive about Italy in this JWC is their move­ment of the ball to the wide chan­nels, in sharp con­trast to their ap­proach in pre­vi­ous sea­sons that has been all about out­right for­ward strength.

Li­neen will an­nounce his side later to­day and will want to en­sure that his for­ward pack can com­pete with a strong Ital­ian eight and that the in­side backs can re­lease the fire­power of Jamie Farn­dale, poised to be­come the record try scorer, and Damien Hoy­land, who scored the Scots’ only try against New Zealand.

At the other end of the cham­pi­onship, Ire­land will at­tempt to book a first place in the fi­nal when they play Eng­land, while in the other semi fi­nal, a clas­sic con­test be­tween pre­vi­ous win­ners, South Africa and the host na­tion, New Zealand, will be a mas­sive crowd-puller.

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