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Scots must improve to take out Italians

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.

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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