Scots give Italians a strong dose of reality
SCOTLAND 34 ITALY 10
On the run ... Scotland's Stuart Hogg. Photo: Reuters
EDINBURGH: An 80-metre intercept try by Stuart Hogg capped Scotland's Six Nations win over Italy on Saturday, bringing the visitors back to earth after their defeat of France.
The fullback brought the Murrayfield crowd to their feet with one of four tries scored by the back division of the Scots, who ended a wretched run of four straight losses to revive their campaign.
Centres Matt Scott and Sean Lamont and winger Tim Visser also went over while Greig Laidlaw kicked flawlessly for 14 points as the error-prone Azzurri were blown away, a week after producing one of their greatest displays to beat the pre-tournament favourites.
Inspired Scotland thrash Italy
Scotland's centre Sean Lamont makes a break. Photo: AFP
This match typically decides the wooden spoon but the Italians' 23-18 victory over France added a new dimension to their trip to Edinburgh, with some pundits saying they could challenge for a top-three finish for the first time.
However, they were no match for a fired-up Scottish team desperate to make up for the 38-18 loss to England the previous weekend, with Italy's only try coming from breakaway Alessandro Zanni late on.
Strong in defence, Scotland brought a clinical edge to play behind the scrum that has rarely been seen in recent years.
Hogg's interception in the 48th minute was the game's highlight, when he read Luciano Orquera's inside pass to burst upfield and score his second try of the tournament.
Yet interim coach Scott Johnson will be more happy with the creativity that led to Visser's try in the left corner in the 29th and then Scott's well-worked try off a lineout in the 43rd. That made it 20-3 and effectively wrapped up the victory.
''I liked the intent from our boys,'' Johnson said. ''We spoke about the contact area all week and straight from the start we were aggressive and turned over the ball. We had our chances and scored from them.''
Scotland led 13-3 at half-time after dominating the breakdown and forcing sloppy handling errors from Italy.
Visser added to Laidlaw's two early penalties by taking a fine pass from Ruaridh Jackson, cutting inside Sergio Parisse off his left foot and powering over the line.
Orquera's penalty on the stroke of half-time gave the Italians some hope but they were undone by two Scotland tries just after the restart.