Blair Kinghorn scored a hat-trick in Scotland’s 33-20 bonus-point win against Italy at Murrayfield on Saturday. JON CARDINELLI reports.
Scotland have begun their Six Nations campaign with a bang, at least as far as the tournament log is concerned. Gregor Townsend’s charges scored five tries against a game Italian defence and ultimately won the game by a comfortable margin.
Scotland took some to settle, though. While they dominated territory in the early stages – with flyhalf Finn Russell finding plenty of grass with a series of chips and grubbers – their sloppy breakdown work cost them possession at key stages.
Italy deserve credit for the manner in which they applied themselves at the rucks. Scotland were turned over deep in the Italy half on several occasions.
The visitors were caught out a few times, however, in the wider channels. Russell found Kinghorn with a pinpoint kick pass in the 12th minute.
The left winger found himself in space again later in the half. Those two tries allowed Scotland to go to the break with a 12-3 lead.
Yet another well-weighted grubber kick by Russell provided Scotland with an opportunity at the start of the second stanza. Stuart Hogg beat the Italian defence to dot the ball down and propel the hosts into a commanding position.
Scotland proceeded to up the tempo. Italy began to fall off tackles and Kinghorn claimed his third try of the afternoon in the 54th minute. This score ensured that Scotland banked the try-scoring bonus point and – in all likelihood – the five log points.
They weren’t done yet, though. Hogg broke down the blindside to take play deep into the Italy 22. The ball was recycled quickly, with Josh Strauss delivering the final pass to Chris Harris.
Italy earned some reward for their efforts in the dying moments. Scotland prop Simon Berghan was yellow-carded in the 71st minute following a series of infringements by the hosts in the red zone. Italy took the penalty quickly and Guglielmo Palazzani managed to breach the defence.
Edoardo Padovani crossed the tryline four minutes later, while a good finish by Angelo Esposito thereafter ensured that Italy added some respectability to the final scoreline.
Scotland– Tries: Blair Kinghorn (3), Stuart Hogg, Chris Harris. Conversions: Greig Laidlaw (3), Finn Russell.
Italy –Tries: Guglielmo Palazzani, Edoardo Padovani, Angelo Esposito. Conversion: Tommaso Allan. Penalty: Allan.
Scotland – 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Sam Johnson, 11 Blair Kinghorn, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Greig Laidlaw (c), 8 Ryan Wilson, 7 Jamie Ritchie, 6 Sam Skinner, 5 Grant Gilchrist, 4 Ben Toolis, 3 WP Nel, 2 Stuart McInally, 1 Allan Dell.
Subs: Jake Kerr, 17 Jamie Bhatti, 18 Simon Berghan, 19 Gary Graham, 20 Josh Strauss, 21 Ali Price, 22 Adam Hastings, 23 Chris Harris.
Italy – 15 Jayden Hayward, 14 Angelo Esposito, 13 Luca Morisi, 12 Tommaso Castello, 11 Michele Campagnaro, 10 Tommaso Allan, 9 Guglielmo Palazzani; 8 Sergio Parisse (c); 7 Braam Steyn, 6 Sebastian Negri, 5 Dean Budd, 4 David Sisi, 3 Simone Ferrari, 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 1 Andrea Lovotti.
Subs: 16 Luca Bigi, 17 Cherif Traore, 18 Tiziano Pasquali, 19 Federico Ruzza, 20 Jimmy Tuivaiti, 21 Tommaso Benvenuti, 22 Ian McKinley, 23 Edoardo Padovani.