Six Nations Championship
Scots give Cotter a winning finale
Scotland 29 ( 15) Italy 0 (0)
A convincing scoreline gave coach Vern Cotter a fitting send-off in his final game in charge of the national team.
The New Zealander is credited with transforming Scotland’s performances and there were flashes today of the changes he has introduced, with a vastly improved defence and added firepower.
After the match he looked emotional and said: “”I would like to thank the players and everyone for the last three years it has been fun.”
Scotland moved temporarily into second place in the Championship until France beat Wales in an extraordinary match in Paris (see below).
In the first sell-out match at Murrayfield for a tie against Italy, the Scots ran up one of their biggest winning margins, though it was flattered by an error-strewn performance by the young Italian side who squandered a number of scoring opportunities.
Four tries from different players were enough to put the visitors to the sword and give Scotland a try bonus point and three victories in the tournament for the first time in 10 years. It was the first time Italy have failed to score since 2004.
Tommy Seymour finished off a good piece of teamwork to score Scotland’s fourth try on 72 minutes, adding to Tim Visser’s try ten minutes earlier.
Scotland took until mid-way through the second period to regain control after a period of sustained pressure from the Italians.
John Barclay was ordered off for an infringement on 49 minutes with the visitors still pushing for their opening points.
Scotland struggled to get any sort of grip on the game early in the second half, not helped by conceding two penalties in quick succession. Another try-scoring opportunity went awry for the Italians when they were thwarted by handling errors just before the line.
Stuart Hogg kicked Scotland into an early lead through a penalty, and after a period of defensive play, Finn Russell burst through to score the first try which he converted to give the Scots a 10-0 lead.
It came just after centre Huw Jones looked to be heading for the line before slipping and injuring his ankle to force his withdrawal and replacement by Gloucester’s Matt Scott.
The visitors were left to regret two penalty misses by Carlo Canna before Scott put the home side further ahead with their second try. Russell was unable to convert from the tight angle. Canna missed a third kick just before the interval.
Scotland starting line-up: Hogg, Seymour, Jones, Dunbar, Visser, Russell, Price, Reid, Ford, Fagerson, Gilchrist, J. Gray, Barclay, Watson, Wilson. Replacements: Brown, Dell, Berghan, Swinson, Du Preez, Pyrgos, Weir, Scott.
Tries: Russell, Scott,Visser, Seymour. Conversions: Russell (3). Penalties: Hogg
Ireland 13 (10) England 9 (3)
England’s dream of a second successive Grand Slam and record beating 19th test win was shattered in Dublin as a determined Irish team overcame one of the best teams in recent years.
Coach Eddie Jones said it was “disappointing”.
England World Cup winner Matt Dawson said: “That was one of the finest Ireland displays I’ve seen in a long time, the opposition are world class and Ireland have stepped up yet again, a fantastic display.”
France 20 Wales 18
France grabbed second spot in the Championship in the last of 20 added minutes in an extraordinary match.
The Welsh clung on to the lead 18-13 until France forced a last gasp try and conversion.