Scotland destroy Italy in record-breaking 52-10 Six Nations victory

Scotland returned to winning ways with a record-breaking 52-10 bonus-point victory over Italy at BT Murrayfield.

Saturday, 20th March 2021, 4:29 pm
Jaco van der Walt scored two tries in Scotland's 52-10 victory. Picture: Ross Parker / SNS

It was the first time the Scots had scored over 50 points against the Italians in the Six Nations and was also the biggest margin of victory in the fixture.

After back-to-back home defeats against Wales and Ireland this was a welcome tonic for Gregor Townsend, particularly with a match in Paris to come on Friday.

France will represent a much stiffer test, of course, and the scale of Italy’s defeat will once again raise questions over their value to the Championship.

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Scotland hooker David Cherry forces his way over against Italy.

They have conceded over 40 points in each of their five matches this season and will now go into a seventh year without a Six Nations win.

Scotland’s eight tries were shared out. Hooker Dave Cherry and winger Duhan van der Merwe grabbed two apiece, and Darcy Graham, Huw Jones, Scott Steele and Sam Johnson weighed in with one each.

It was Italy, however, who made the early running and it took them only five minutes to put points on the scoreboard as the Scots were caught cold for the second week running.

Stand-off Paolo Garbisi was the architect, kicking to the corner after Scotland gave away the penalty. Italy executed the maul with aplomb and captain and hooker Luca Bigi squeezed his way over in the corner despite the attentions of Graham.

Man of the match Hamish Watson is collared at Murrayfield.

Garbisi delivered a peach of a left-foot conversion from out on the touchline to give the visitors an early 7-0 lead.

The Scottish response was immediate, with three quick-fire tries in the space of ten minutes.

The first came via a tried and trusted method. The lineout maul had been a useful weapon in the autumn for the Scots and it was utilised to good effect again here.

Sam Skinner rose highest to pluck the ball from the air and set-up the score and Cherry peeled off and forced his way over. Hogg missed the conversion but Scotland were back.

Scott Steele celebrates his first start for Scotland with a try. Picture: Stu Forster/Getty Images

Jones, van der Merwe and Graham were seeing plenty of the ball and loving it, running hard at the Italian defence.

Jones in particular looked in the mood and a superb break from the Glasgow centre paved the way for Scotland’s second try. The ball was recycled and shipped wide to van der Merwe and the left-winger surged down the line then danced around the deadball area to dot down under the posts and give Hogg the easy conversion.

Italy reduced the arrears to 12-10 with a Garbisi penalty but Scotland were in the ascendancy and their superiority really told when the visitors were reduced to 14 men.

Federico Mori was the guilty party, his attempt to stop Sam Johnson was more shoulder charge than tackle, and ref Pascal Gaüzère sent him to the sin-bin.

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The Scots made the numerical advantage count, plundering two tries while Italy were short-handed. Graham got the first, but it was all about the break from Sean Maitland. He fed to Jones who was able to pop the ball up to the Hawick winger to run in a simple score.

Jones got on the scoresheet himself a few minutes later. Van der Merwe made good yards but it was all about the quick thinking and quick hands of Hogg.

The stand-in stand-off pirouetted and played in Jones who rushed to the line for his 12th Scotland try in 30 Tests. Hogg converted and Scotland went in at the break 24-10 ahead.

Townsend’s side pushed further ahead four minutes into the second half as Cherry scored his second try. The Scottish lineout had misfired badly against Ireland but it was looking a lot better this week with Cherry - in for George Turner - throwing straight and true. Grant Gilchrist collected on this occasion, setting up the maul for Cherry to reap the rewards.

With an eye to the France game, Townsend took the opportunity to utilise his bench, changing his whole front row after 48 minutes.

Italy were looking increasingly ragged and Sebastian Negri’s yellow card hardly helped their cause. Scotland quickly took advantage, Johnson surging for the line. He was held up by Garbisi but scrum-half Steele picked up and dived over for a try on his first Test start.

It was to be his last action, with Ali Price replacing him. It was also the cue for Jaco van der Walt to come on at stand-off, allowing Hogg to return to full-back, with Maitland going off.

Italy were reduced to 13 men with 20 minutes remaining when Monty Ioane lifted Hogg in the tackle and dumped him on the ground.

Scotland continued to turn the screw and Johnson got the try his performance deserved when he forced his way over from close range.

The home side save the best for last, with Price’s fresh legs creating the eighth and final try for van der Merwe. The scrum-half broke from inside his own 22 and his one-handed pass to the big winger took out at least three Italians, allowing van der Merwe to run in the score from halfway.

Scorers. Scotland: Tries: D Cherry 2, D van der Merwe 2, D Graham, H Jones, S Steele, Johnson. Cons: S Hogg 6.

Italy: Tries: L Bigi. Cons: P Garbisi. Pens: P Garbisi.

Scotland: S Maitland (J van der Walt 54); D Graham, H Jones, S Johnson (C Harris 65), D van der Merwe; S Hogg, S Steele (A Price 54); R Sutherland (J Bhatti 48), D Cherry (G Turner 48), Z. Fagerson (S Berghan 48), S Skinner, G Gilchrist (A Craig 61), J Ritchie, H Watson (N Haining 65), M. Fagerson.

Italy: E Padovani; M Bellini, J Brex, F Mori (M Zanon 54), M Ioane; P Garbisi (C Canna 54), S Varney (M Violi 70); D Fischetti (A Lovotti 70), L Bigi (G Lucchesi 70), M Riccioni (G Zilocchi 32), N Cannone, F Ruzza (M Mbanda 61), S Negri, J Meyer (R Favretto 75), M Lamaro.

Referee: Pascal Gaüzère (France).

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