Scotland add to Italy's horrendous run
SIX NATIONS MATCH REPORT: Blair Kinghorn scored a hat-trick of tries as Scotland launched their 2019 Six Nations Championship campaign with a 33-20 victory at home to Italy on Saturday.
Kinghorn became the first Scotland player to score a Championship hat-trick since fellow wing Iwan Tukalo achieved the feat against Ireland 30 years ago.
The Scots led 33-3 with 10 minutes left, but the Azzurri avoided a morale-sapping thrashing with three late tries.
Fullback Stuart Hogg and replacement centre Chris Harris also crossed as Scotland won a seventh successive home game in the Six Nations, their longest such run in the championship since 1975.
Reigning champions Ireland are sure to pose a sterner test next Saturday but coach Gregor Townsend had reason to be happy with a seventh successive Scottish victory against Italy, who line up against Wales in Rome next Saturday looking to end a record run of 18 successive defeats in the Six Nations.
Italy coach Conor O’Shea and captain Sergio Parisse, making a record 66th Six Nations appearance, were left pondering what might have been after scrum-half Guglielmo Palazzani and wings Edoardo Padovani and Angelo Esposito all scored tries in a late attacking flurry.
O’Shea was forced to change his starting XV before kick-off, injured scrum-half Tito Tebaldi making way for Palazzani. His team were on the back foot from the start of a one-sided opening half.
A chip and chase up the right wing would have earned Scotland a second minute try had Italy full-back Jayden Hayward not rushed across to hack the ball into touch.
Grant Gilchrist thought he had scored from the ensuing catch and drive but television match official Simon McDowell ruled the Edinburgh lock had made a double movement in getting the ball over the try-line.
Kinghorn and Stuart Hogg also stretched the Italian defence to near breaking point but it was the visitors who got the first score on the board, former Scotland Under-20 international Tommaso Allan landing a ninth minute penalty.
Two minutes later, though, Scotland fly-half Finn Russell angled a perfectly judged chip kick into the arms of Kinghorn, affording the left wing a clear run to the line from 22 metres out
Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw pushed the conversion wide but the Clermont scrum-half atoned for the miss as the hosts stretched their lead to 12-3 with a converted Kinghorn try midway through the first half.
It was a superbly executed score. Josh Strauss and Laidlaw smartly switched the direction of an attack, with Kinghorn going over in the left corner after Russell, debutant centre Sam Johnson and Hogg combined in a slick handling move that completely wrong-footed the Italian defence.
Six minutes into the second half Scotland were into the comfort zone with a third try, Russell stabbing a kick through for Hogg to beat Esposito to the touch down with his outstretched left hand. Laidlaw’s conversion made it 19-3.
Kinghorn’s hat-trick came in the 53rd minute when he cut through the Italian defence from 15 metres after a break by flanker Jamie Ritchie.
Laidlaw again converted. Then, Ali Price having replaced the Scotland captain, Russell landed the conversion after Harris burst over in the 61st minute for his first international try.
At that stage Scotland were on course for a rout at 30 points ahead but, with Simon Berghan sin-binned, they took their foot off the pedal in the last 10 minutes.
Palazzani, Padovani and finally Esposito all exploited lax defending to apply a belated Italy gloss to the scoreline.
Man of the match: Finn Russell made a huge impact orchestrating much of the plays with his boot, while fullback Stuart made his presence with massive tackles. However, our nod goes to the hat-trick hero Blair Kinghorn. From the kick-off, the Edinburgh wing exploited the Italians’ defence with impressive with his great line-breaks and topped off the flawless performance with three tries.
Moment of the match: When Guglielmo Palazzani scored Italy’s first try in the 70th minute. Palazzani’s try instigated an amazing last 10 minutes which saw them narrow the score from 3-33 down to 20-33.
Vilian of the match: The Italians’ lack of effort and inability to make it out of their own 22 for the first 70 minutes.
Tries: Kinghorn 3, Hogg, Harris
Cons: Laidlaw 3
Tries: Palazzani, Padovani. Esposito
Yellow card: Simon Berghan (Scotland, 68 – repeat infringement)
Scotland: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Sam Johnson, 11 Blair Kinghorn, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Greig Laidlaw (captain), 8 Ryan Wilson, 7 Jamie Ritchie, 6 Sam Skinner, 5 Grant Gilchrist, 4 Ben Toolis, 3 Willem Nel, 2 Stuart McInally, 1 Allan Dell.
Replacements: 16 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 (captain), 7 Braam Steyn, 6 Sebastian Negri, 5 Dean Budd, 4 David Sisi, 3 Simone Ferrari, 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 1 Andrea Lovotti.
Replacements: 16 Luca Bigi, 17 Cherif Traore, 18 Tiziano Pasquali, 19 Federico Ruzza, 20 Jimmy Tuivaiti, 21 Tommaso Benvenuti , 22 Ian McKinley, 23 Edoardo Padovani.
Referee: Luke Pearce (England)
Assistant referees: Mathieu Raynal (France), Shuhei Kubo (Japan)
TMO: Simon McDowell (Ireland)
Source: AFP & @rugby365com