Scotland under-20s captain Liam McConnell said keeping his side focused on Hong Kong China and not letting minds drift to Friday’s crunch clash with Japan was challenging.  

But the back-row praised his team-mates for sticking to the task at hand as they ran in 15 tries to hit a century of points for the second successive World Rugby U20 Trophy match at Hive Stadium.  

McConnell said: “We tried really hard not to talk about Japan at all during the week and focus on Hong Kong China.  

“It’s not easy, especially because Japan are a good team and it is hard not to think about them. We had no chat about Japan and just focused completely on Hong Kong.” 

He echoed the sentiments of head coach Kenny Murray, who praised the team for their defensive performance.  

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McConnell, who is part of the Edinburgh Rugby academy set-up, added: “We knew the scores would come themselves, but we were just happy that our defence was strong and kept them to zero.”  

From the initial squad selected by Murray, everyone except prop Jake Shearer has had a taste of the action in the first two games. Shearer has missed out through illness.  

But McConnell believes the squad is in good shape, despite a nasty-looking hamstring injury to his back-row colleague Jonny Morris during the win over Hong Kong China.  

Jonny Morris scored two tries before he was forced offJonny Morris scored two tries before he was forced off (Image: World Rugby/SNS)

“It was good to get a lot of different combinations on and boys playing slightly out of position,” he said, referencing hooker Seb Stephen slotting into the back-row in the second half of Sunday’s win.  

“If it comes to that next week we’ll be ready, and the game-time was spread pretty well so the boys will be fresh for next week as well,” he said.  

A win over Japan on Friday would see Scotland top pool A and into the final of the competition, with USA their likely opponents.  

The Americans are top of pool B having beaten the Netherlands and Uruguay and have bottom-placed Kenya to play in their final group match, also on Friday.  

The winners of the World Rugby U20 Trophy will earn promotion to the top-tier U20 World Championship, which is currently being contested in South Africa.  

Scotland have not featured at that event since losing a relegation play-off to Fiji in 2019.