Six Nations Championship
Record win boosts Scots spirits ahead of Paris
Boost: Van Der Merwe and Hogg celebrate (pic: SNS Group).
Scotland 52 Italy 10
Scotland will head to France for their final match of this season’s Six Nations with a chance to secure second place after a record-breaking win over Italy.
The Scots bounced back from dispiriting defeats to Wales and Ireland by running in eight tries at Murrayfield.
Hooker Dave Cherry scored twice on his first start, while scrum-half Scott Steele also marked his full debut with a try. There was a brace for Duhan Van Der Merwe while Darcy Graham, Huw Jones and Sam Johnson contributed to the Scots’ biggest ever Six Nations victory.
Skipper Stuart Hogg, who replaced the injured Finn Russell at No. 10 and slotted six of his eight kicks, said: “All week we talked about having a big reaction and showed a performance that represented us.
“At times we lacked that clinical edge and we didn’t score as many as we’d like to. The boys put in a hell of a performance and I’m chuffed to bits with the result.
“We’ve had a huge amount of confidence from the very beginning of the Six Nations but those little things have killed us. We’ve been in every single game. In the last couple of games, we have scored 24 points and come away with defeats.
“Today that was more like us. We threw the ball around and had some fun. Hopefully that gives us a big boost ahead of next week.”
Scotland need a bonus-point victory in the French capital on Friday to secure the runners-up berth.
The defeat will prompt questions over the Italians’ ability to be competitive at this level.
They have conceded more tries (34) and more points (239), and registered the worst points difference (-184), than in 21 previous Six Nations tournaments.
France will go into the match against Scotland in Paris hunting for the title after a dramatic late win over Wales denied the visitors the Grand Slam.
France prevailed 32-30 in Paris thanks to a try with the clock beyond 80 minutes, the decisive score coming despite Willemse’s 68th-minute red card. Wales’ indiscipline costing them two late yellow cards which handed the French the advantage in a pulsating finale.
The French need to score a bonus-point win over Scotland to take the championship, although Wayne Pivac’s side still have a chance of winning the Six Nations themselves should France fail to beat Townsend’s side by a big enough margin.
Ireland thrashed England 32-18 in Dublin, despite having a man sent off.
Scores: Scotland – Tries: Cherry (2), Van Der Merwe (2), Graham, Jones, Steele, Johnson. Conversions: Hogg (6). Italy – Tries: Bigi; Conversions: Garbisi; Penalties: Garbisi.
Scotland: 15-Sean Maitland, 14-Darcy Graham, 13-Huw Jones, 12-Sam Johnson, 11-Duhan van der Merwe, 10-Stuart Hogg (capt), 9-Scott Steele; 1-Rory Sutherland, 2-David Cherry, 3-Zander Fagerson, 4-Sam Skinner, 5-Grant Gilchrist, 6-Jamie Ritchie, 7-Hamish Watson, 8-Matt Fagerson.
Replacements: 16-George Turner, 17. Jamie Bhatti, 18. Simon Berghan, 19. Alex Craig, 20. Nick Haining, 21. Ali Price, 22. Jaco van der Walt, 23. Chris Harris.