World Rugby U20s Championship Round 3 Pool B Preview

Scotland v Italy, 15:15 (BST) Academy Stadium, Manchester

England v Australia, 19:45 (BST) AJ Bell Stadium, Manchester

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Scotland v Italy

As it stands, winless Italy are left playing for pride – and more importantly to keep their place in next years tournament. Scotland, hugely impressive with their shock win over Australia in Round 1, need a miracle to qualify for the semi-finals.

Scotland are on 4 points, in third place; Italy at the bottom of Pool B (but having so far outscored the Scots). In order for Scotland to make the semi’s, Scotland will need a cricket score over the plucky Italians; for Australia to lose to England without a bonus point; for South Africa and France to draw (without try bonus points) and for New Zealand and Wales to draw (again, without try bonus points).

The likely scenario is that both teams will progress to the lower-place playoffs – Scotland can aim as high as 5th, Italy as high as 9th.

One’s to watch:

Winger Robbie Nairn and out-half Adam Hastings for Scotland, whilst Matteo Minozzi at full-back for the Italians has a clean pair of heels.

Prediction:

Scotland to win by 15 – the Italians will have pride to play for, but Scotland will need to outclass their seven-times-removed Mediterranean cousins, knowing there is still a faint hope of semi-final spot.

Harry Mallinder World Rugby U20sEngland v Australia

 It’s still all to play for at the AJ Bell in the final game of Round 3. England have put a disappointing Six Nations behind them with wins in Round 1 and 2 over Italy and Scotland; Australia have faced a tougher test following their Round 1 defeat to Scotland. Bouncing back with a 38-10 win over Italy, the Aussie U20’s can still qualify as winners of Pool B with a big win over England.

England always perform well at the U20 Championships, with wins in 2013 and 2014, the winning sides have produced current England stars such as Itoje, Nowell and Clifford. With only England (2 wins), New Zealand (5 wins) and South Africa (1 win) lifting the 8 year history of the Championships, England have the history and home field advantage in their favour.

Ones to Watch:

George Nott has really stood up in the back row for England, as have Williams and Marchant in the centre’s. Stan South has been brought in at Second Row and he will put in the hard yards against a big Australian pack. Northampton Saints’ Harry Mallinder has rightly received acclaim for his performances so far and he’ll run the show from the 10 jumper this evening.

The Australian side have made 3 changes to the side that put 38 points past Italy, with Ikapote Tupai and Lukhan Tui coming into the pack at Openside and Lock respectively. Both lads have been picked to add physicality to the side, so expect big performances from both. In the backline, Sione Tuipulotu of the Melbourne Rebels has the experience (and potential) of Mallinder in the England ranks. If any player will break the white line this evening, it will be this man.

Prediction:

England to win, but a close game. Australia will play with grunt and without fear; England, however, has greater depth and experience in the side. A slightly partisan crowd at the AJ Bell Stadium in sunny (we can dream!) Manchester will also hold favour to the