By Katie Field
In a Nutshell
FOUR TRIES from four different backs – in recent years Scotland have sometimes gone through a whole Six Nations without that kind of return. This time they achieved it in one match as they shrugged off any fears of a home defeat against Italy and put their visitors to the sword.
Scotland were aggressive and effective at the breakdown, earning nine turnovers, and Greig Laidlaw used the possession well. They led 13-3 at half-time then ran in two more tries in the first seven minutes of the second half to leave Italy folornly trailing in their wake. Luciano Orquera, who had been so brilliant at No 10 for Italy a week ago, had a nightmarish time and didn’t last 50 minutes, while even the usually infallible Sergio Parisse was making mistakes.
Scotland’s defence was superb and their attitude was epitomised by Sean Lamont’s try in the 69th minute. The centre leapt up from a tackle, booted the ball through the ruck then scooped it up and ran half the length of the field to score. His team were already 27-3 up, but they were still hungry.
Scotland had edged into a 6-0 lead with two Laidlaw penalties in the first 24 minutes but they took a firm hold on the scoreboard when Tim Visser scored the game’s first try after 29 minutes. Good build-up work from Stuart Hogg and a lovely show and go from Ruaridh Jackson gave Visser the ball in a few yards of space and he wove his way through the last line of defence to touch down, with Laidlaw converting for a 13-0 lead. From there, Scotland had the confidence to kick on and win by 24 clear points.
Laidlaw was named the RBS Man of the Match for his control of the game, but there were plenty of other Scottish candidates. Rob Harley was superb in the back row in his first start for Scotland, Richie Gray showed up well all around the park and Hogg had a stormer for the second week in a row.
Stuart Hogg: For the second week on the bounce the full-back showed he has the talent to make an impact in Australia this summer. He scored a fabulous interception try and was always a threat.
Sean Maitland: The wing didn’t get on the scoresheet this week, but he got through a huge amount of good work, showcasing his range of skills in support of his team-mates.
Richie Gray: The big man was a little quiet last week – by his standards – but he took his game up a level this time and almost forced a try with his enthusiastic chasing of a kick ahead, but Matt Scott’s touchdown was disallowed for a forward pass.
No Scots ended up with a black mark against their names this week. A good day at the office for them all.
Italy actually enjoyed 72% possession in the second half, but the 146 tackles Scotland made through the game meant the scoreline was strongly in their favour.
Both teams were looking to play attacking rugby, with Italy making 406 metres and Scotland not far behind on 393m.
Italy prop Andrea Lo Cicero won his 100th cap but did not have anything else to celebrate.
Tries: Tim Visser, Matt Scott, Stuart Hogg, Sean Lamont
Cons: Greig Laidlaw 4. Pens: Laidlaw 2
Try: Alessandro Zanni
Con: Kris Burton. Pen: Luciano Orquera