Scotland open their RBS 6 Nations campaign tonight at Dubarry Park in Athlone against an Ireland side intent on avenging a 21-20 defeat inflicted by the Scots last season at Netherdale.

That result, of course, will not be much of a pointer in an age group where few players appear for more than a season, although one prominent exception is the winger Jamie Farndale who, having played for the team as a 17-year-old, is now in his third season with Scotland Under-20s and his experience should prove invaluable tonight.

Last term's other winger, Damien Hoyland, has been moved to outside-centre and will partner the young Glasgow Hawks player Neil Herron whose development has included a spell with the Scotland 7s squad.

Loading article content

Experience there may be at centre and in the back three, but Scotland will be hoping their young half-backs - Ben Chalmers, son of Scotland and Lions fly-half Craig, and Murdo McAndrew, the former Howe of Fife and Strathallan scrum-half now with Clermont Auvergne - can adjust to this level with some alacrity.

Chalmers only missed out on Scotland Under-18 selection by a few days and, after a good display in an earlier training match, finds himself in the pivot position for the Under-20s. He has shown he has excellent distributive skills and, like his father, understands the game well.

If Scotland are to achieve a second successive victory, their forwards must win the frontal battle.

Sean Lineen's charges do not comprise a heavy pack but one which should compensate for it in their mobility, with captain, Tommy Spinks, and lock Glen Young likely to be key players.

TEAM. Scotland Under-20 (v Ireland, Dubarry Park, Athlone, tonight, 7.05)

G Lowe (Glasgow Hawks/Glasgow Warriors); J Farndale (Edinburgh Accies/Edinburgh), D Hoyland (Melrose), N Herron (Glasgow Hawks/Scotland 7s), S Pecqueur (Edinburgh Accies); B Chalmers (Melrose), M McAndrew (Clermont Auvergne); J Malcolm (Ayr), S James (Wasps), D Rae (Ayr/Glasgow), A Cramond (Aberdeen Grammar), G Young (Newcastle Falcons), M Bradbury (Boroughmuir/Edinburgh), T Spinks (London Scottish, capt), B Richardson (London Scottish). Substitutes R Graham (Hawick), P Cringle (Edinburgh Accies/Edinburgh), J Cosgrove (Worcester Warriors), L Carmichael (Melrose), N Irvine-Hess (Watsonians/Edinburgh), B Vellacott (Worcester Warriors/Hartpury), B Cooper (Boroughmuir), R Young (Edinburgh Accies)