Some 50,247 fans were treated to a very entertaining RBS 6 Nations Championship match at Murrayfield today, where Scotland beat Italy, 34-10.
It was the Scots first win on home soil since August 2011 and the first occasion they had scored four tries in an RBS 6 Nations game since their 33-25 victory over Italy at Murrayfield in 2003. Winger Tim Visser, inside centre Matt Scott, full-back Stuart Hogg and outside centre Sean Lamont got the touchdowns.
Across the field the hosts played well. The backs were making many line breaks, the defence throughout the team was firm, and on the whole refused to yield, and the offloading game was particularly effective.
Scotland interim head coach, Scott Johnson, said: “I’m really happy with the performance today, but we want to win the Championship, and while there are improvements a lot was left out on the pitch.
"Today’s result puts us right in this tournament.”
Scotland captain, Kelly Brown, said: “We said last week after England that they won the match with one on ones, but today we really fought and grafted as a side and that paid off.”
From the outset Scotland were looking sharp, playing a fast and expansive game and were making plenty of ground, however it was their opponents who had the first chance to get on the scoreboard when Jim Hamilton was penalised at a ruck five minutes in.
Stand-off Luciano Orquera’s kick wasn’t accurate and play resumed.
The scoreboard remained blank for another ten minutes, but this time Scotland were given a chance at goal, which scrum-half Greig Laidlaw slotted comfortably. 3-0
Scotland continued to play a fast-paced attacking game and took every opportunity to advance at Italy’s line, at this stage back-row Rob Harley was showing a lot of skill at the line-out with his body position and collection making a bold, firm statement.
Scotland were back on the scoreboard just shy of 25 minutes when they were awarded a second penalty that Laidlaw put through the sticks. 6-0
Five minutes later, and the first try of the match was scored. Stand-off Ruaridh Jackson swiped a ball to Visser who was in waiting on the wing. All it then took was a clever step inside and the flyer was over the line and the Murrayfield crowd on their feet. Laidlaw made it three kicks from three and Scotland were up 13-0.
With two minutes left on the clock before half-time, Italy managed to get their name on the score sheet. Orquera struck his second attempt well and the half ended following the restart 13-3. Half-time: Scotland 13-3 Italy
Following a confident end to the first half, the hosts returned to action all guns blazing and within a matter of minutes their second try was scored. First Scotland won the line-out, then Visser broke the line and had Scott close-by on his shoulder. The defence was shattered and Scott dived in for his first international try. Laidlaw converted. 20-3
Not even ten minutes in and Scotland were over the whitewash again. Hogg scooped the ball out of mid-air, intercepting a pass from Orquera to Benvenuti, as the Italians looked as though they were on the verge of a try, and ran in his score from 85 metres out. Laidlaw notched the conversion. 27-3
The next ten minutes saw Italy looking to create something using their scrum as a lethal weapon. They were looking strong and gaining a lot of ground, however Scotland defended well and finally managed to knock the visitors back and relieve the pressure.
On 65 minutes the Scots crossed the line again, when winger Sean Maitland and Scott created a narrow overlap on the wing, Scott dived in but the referee deemed the pass between the two players forward.
It didn’t take long though, before Murrayfield was back on its feet. Sean Lamont, demonstrating good knowledge of the laws, drove through from behind the hindmost foot, gathered a loose ball sandwiched between to Italian defenders and noticed a clear path between himself and the middle of the posts. Turning on the gas he dotted down for his first try on home turf since 2006. Laidlaw converted. 34-3
With seven minutes left on the clock, the Italians lifted their attack, desperately searching for something to add to their tally. Patience paid off and after some phases back-row Alessandro Zanni worked his way over the line. Kris Burton converted and Italy were into double figures. 34-10
As the minutes counted down Scotland were looking for a fifth try, on two occasions Maitland noticed space to nudge the ball through and send Evans in, but both times Italy won the chase by inches.
The crowd counted down and with a huge roar ringing throughout the stadium, Scotland had won.Full-time: Scotland 34-10 Italy RBS Man of the match:
Greig LaidlawScotland team:
Stuart Hogg; Sean Maitland, Sean Lamont, Matt Scott, Tim Visser; Ruaridh Jackson, Greig Laidlaw; Ryan Grant, Ross Ford, Euan Murray, Richie Gray, Jim Hamilton, Rob Harley, Kelly Brown (captain), Johnnie Beattie.
Pat MacArthur, Moray Low (for Grant, 59mins), Geoff Cross (for Murray, 69mins), Alastair Kellock (for Hamilton, 66mins), David Denton (for Brown, 69mins), Henry Pyrgos (for Laidlaw, 75mins), Duncan Weir and Max Evans (for Hogg, 72mins).
Andrea Masi; Giovanbattista Venditti, Tomasso Benvenuti, Gonzalo Canale, Luke McLean; Luciano Orquera, Tobias Botes; Andrea Lo Cicero Vaina, Leonardo Ghiraldini, Martin Castrogiovanni, Quintin Geldenhuys, Francesco Minto, Alessandro Zanni, Simone Favaro, Sergio Parisse (captain).
Davide Giazzon (for Ghiraldini, 59mins), Aleberto De Marchi (for Andrea Lo Cicero Vaina, 59mins), Lorenzo Cittadini (for Castrogiovanni, 63mins), Antonio Pavanello (for Geldenhuys, 59mins), Paul Derbyshire (for Favaro, 67mins), Edoardo Gori (for Botes, 60mins), Kris Burton (for Orquera, 60mins), Gonzalo Garcia.Referee:
Jaco Peyper (SARU)