Italy 13 - 34 Scotland: Gregor Townsend secures dominant debut win
Gregor Townsend began his reign as Scotland head coach with a 34-13 victory over Italy in Singapore.
Four tries in a spectacular 10 minutes helped Townsend’s cause while fly-half Finn Russell produced two moments of magic that made sure of the result.
Ali Price, Tim Visser, Ross Ford (two) and Damien Hoyland scored tries for Scotland, with Duncan Taylor and Peter Horne adding a conversion apiece and Russell on target twice from the tee.
The start had been anything but the one Scotland wanted, with flanker John Hardie hobbling out of the pre-match warm-up with a back problem.
Ryan Wilson started with wing Rory Hughes coming onto the bench as Townsend abandoned his original plan to pack the replacements with forwards.
The Scots began brightly, however, with captain John Barclay breaking to set up an attack that ended with Russell kicking a simple penalty, soon levelled by former Scots age-grade fly-half Tommaso Allan.
Townsend’s troops were being frustrated but they did get Visser through to the line before Paul Williams, the referee, ruled he had been helped by a block.
When they did break through, however, it was spectacular - scrum-half Price launched the attack with a tap penalty and had the pace to round the remaining defence and score.
Russell missed the conversion but he twice played vital roles in setting up a try straight from the kick-off.
The playmaker chipped across the field for wing Hoyland to take Scotland into the 22 and then repeated the little kick for Visser to take it on the full and stretch out to reach the line.
Russell got hurt in the process so the kicking duties went to Taylor, standing in at full-back, who duly slotted the conversion to give his side a 12-point lead at the break.
Scotland soon increased that when hooker Ford, winning his 108th cap, was driven over from a maul.
The fourth try was sensational, with Russell offloading twice and producing an overhead flip that sent Ford rumbling over for his second try - doubling his Test try count - one match before he equals Chris Paterson’s cap record.
Italy did claim one back when flanker Maxime Mbanda intercepted on halfway and found Michele Campagnaro to run in the score.
However, Scotland were not going to surrender that lead and hit back with clever hands from Taylor, giving Hoyland his first Test try on his third cap.
Italy had the final word with Angelo Esposito latching onto a long pass to score as time ran out, but it did not take much gloss off for Townsend.