Scotland has recorded its highest victory over Italy thanks to a 48-7 demolition job in a Rugby World Cup build-up Test at Murrayfield in Edinburgh on Saturday. The Azzurri were error-ridden throughout and the hosts happily took advantage in a confidence booster on the eve of the World Cup. Vern Cotter’s charges showed far more desire and determination, running in six tries as they went some way to erasing the defeat suffered in the last 6 Nations meeting against Jacques Brunel’s boys.
The hosts were able to break the deadlock after five minutes with a superb Greig Laidlaw penalty. Laidlaw landed a successful conversion five minutes later after the Scots continued to press and Sean Lamont surprised the visitors’ defence to go over. Two Laidlaw three-pointers in four minutes saw the Highlanders take a 16-0 lead by the 27th minute.
Italy was on the board 10 minutes from half-time when Michele Campagnaro reacted first on a loose ball and made his way over the whitewash. Tommaso Allan slotted the extras for what would be the Azzurri’s last points of the match. In the 38th minute the Italians were down to 14 men when Francesco Minto was yellow-carded for trying to bring down the Scottish drive from a lineout.
The home side took advantage as John Barclay went over the line. After a short delay awaiting TMO confirmation the try was awarded and Laidlaw slotted the sundries to make it 23-7 at half-time. After eight second stanza minutes Scotland was on the board again thanks to Tim Visser.
The left wing received the ball in space and went on a solo run that saw him go over for the first of two tries on the day. Laidlaw missed the conversion but put a penalty attempt over seven minutes later to make it 31-7 to the Scots. A second Lamont try was unconverted in the 62nd minute but the Highlanders were not done and would go over again through Visser with nine minutes left on the clock. Finn Russell made it 43-7.
The final nail in the coffin came one minute from time when another Italian error, saw the ball turned over when Mark Bennett intercepting a bad clearance and produced a superb solo run that wrapped up a great day for Scotland. Cotter will hope his side can reproduce this kind of form in Pool B at the World Cup against Japan, Samoa, South Africa and the United States of America. Meanwhile, Brunel’s troops will play Wales in Cardiff on Saturday 5 September in its final Test before the World Cup.
Photo credit: SNS/Scottish Rugby