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Can young Scots kick the threat of relegation into touch?

Scotland under-20 head coach Carl Hogg believes his players can perform at a “level to be proud of” in their make or break World Championship match with Fiji in Argentina on Saturday.

The young guns must beat Fiji in the 11th/12th place play-off at the Old Resian Club in Rosario to avoid relegation from the top table of age-grade rugby.

To drop down a tier would be a big blow for Scottish rugby as a whole because a number of the current full squad members working with Gregor Townsend have come through the age-grade route.

“All of the players and coaching staff understand the importance of this fixture,” Hogg stated.

“We understand that this result is pivotal for the next couple of years of under-20s rugby, but it is also an opportunity to go out there and perform.

“We want to perform at a level to be proud of.

“You are not going to have 80 minutes of complete control at Test level, so it is about being nice and robust defensively and then taking your opportunities when they come along. That is Test match rugby.

“If we look at the games where we’ve played well, the scoreline has got away from us and we’ve been able to play some very attractive rugby in a catch-up scenario.

“The question now is, can we play that attractive rugby with freedom earlier in the game whilst still being robust and resilient in defence.

“I think everybody understands the importance of this game but we’ve got to allow the players the freedom to go out and play.

“We have to make sure that we get ‘our’ game on the field. I believe that if we get our game on the field then we’ll get the positive result we are after.”

Matt Davidson and Ross Bundy are added to the starting XV with Lomond MacPherson (bench) and Cameron Henderson (head knock) making way.

Scotland squad:

15 Matt Davidson (London Scottish)

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 Murphy Walker (Stirling County)

2 Ewan Ashman (Sale Sharks)

3 Euan McLaren (Ayr)*

4 Ewan Johnson (Racing 92)

5 Ross Bundy (Stirling County)

6 Marshall Sykes (Ayr)

7 Connor Boyle (Watsonians,C)

8 Tom Marshall (Newcastle Falcons)

Subs:

16 Rory Jackson (Edinburgh Academy)

17 Andrew Nimmo (Glasgow Hawks)

18 Will Hurd (Cardiff Metropolitan University)

19 Mak Wilson (Melrose)

20 Jack Hill (Durham University)

21 Kwagga van Niekerk (Lions)

22 Teddy Leatherbarrow (Sale Sharks)

23 Murray Scott (Watsonians)

24 Nathan Chamberlain (Bristol Bears)

25 Grant Hughes (Stirling County)

26 Lomond MacPherson (Watsonians)

27 Ollie Smith (Ayr)

Scotland v Fiji takes place in the under-20 World Championship at 10.30am local time (2.30pm UK time) on Saturday, June 22 – the match will be streamed live on world.rugby/u20

Thanks to World Rugby for the photo

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