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Player Ratings: Scotland

OPINION: Scotland’s hopes of achieving a top-two finish in the Six Nations suffered a major blow as they lost to Italy for the first time since 2015, ending a run of 13 successive victories over the Azzurri – including the last eight in the Championship.

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Gregor Townsend’s side raced into a 22-10 lead with three tries in the opening half-hour, but after having a fourth ruled out for obstruction early in the second half, their discipline and composure deserted them with a string of penalties conceded and a lack of accuracy in attack.

A late Sam Skinner try gave them hope of salvaging their Italian job, but ultimately they couldn’t prevent the hosts from ending an 11-year, 26-match losing run in Rome.

Bryn Palmer rates the Scottish players:

15. Blair Kinghorn – 7
A one-handed pick-up on his own 22 was one of many classy moments from the Toulouse full-back, who was mostly back to his majestic best here, whether it was claiming high balls, countering from deep or hitting the line in attack, offering Steyn a scoring pass for his try and putting Van der Merwe away down the left. Blotted his copybook with an awful kick that led to Italy’s second try.

14. Kyle Steyn – 6.5
Another energetic display from the Glasgow wing, who showed good strength to collect his 11th Test try on his 18th cap early on. One missed tackle and a drop of a Russell pass just before half-time to put in the debit ledger, but kept hammering away until the end.

13. Huw Jones – 6
Missing his injured midfield pal Sione Tuipulotu, saw plenty of ball in the first half and it was his break and offload that sent Horne over for the try that wasn’t – a huge momentum shifter in the final outcome.

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12. Cam Redpath – 6.5
With Tuipulotu suffering a knee injury against England, the Bath centre was handed only his fourth Test start in four years. Cleverly kept ball in play on the right touchline to set up the opening try, and his break late on set up the position for Skinner’s try and a grandstand finish. His elusive running style was always a threat, but also ran into trouble on several occasions.

11. Duhan van der Merwe – 6
The Championship’s top try-scorer went looking for work and threatened to escape a couple of times but apart from a half-break which led to the opening try, couldn’t really break free of the Italian shackles. Made a crucial defensive intervention when he manhandled Capuozzo over the Scots’ line to deny Italy a try, but remains on 26 Test tries, one short of Stuart Hogg’s Scotland record.

10. Finn Russell – 5.5
One of those frustrating days for the fly-half maestro, with several passes and offloads going to ground. His superb 50:22 kick created the position for Scotland’s third try but missed his first place-kick of the Championship when he nudged his conversion of Schoeman’s try wide, after 18 out of 18 up to that point. Kept trying to conjure something, but couldn’t regain control once Italy got in front.

9. George Horne – 6
Handed only his fourth Test start and his first since the 2019 World Cup, the Glasgow scrum-half enjoyed a superb opening half-hour, moving the point of attack well in the build-up to Fagerson’s opening try and directing operations well. Thought he had his eighth Test try early in the second half with a good support line onto Jones’ break, but it was ruled out for an obstruction by Schoeman. Replaced by Price just before the hour.

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1. Pierre Schoeman – 6.5
The Edinburgh loosehead was much in evidence with his carrying early on, and powered over for his fifth Test try on his 30th cap after getting on the end of a driving maul. But his obstruction on Italy No.8 Ross Vintcent – which saw Horne’s try ruled out – was clumsy and critical in the final outcome. Also part of a front row pinged for collapsing before making way for Hepburn for the final quarter.

2. George Turner – 7.5
Back to his barnstorming best with ball in hand, a series of aggressive carries played a major role in the build-up to Fagerson’s opening try. Bang on with his lineout darts too and got the legs moving on with one weaving run out of defence. Also led the tackle count with 16 before being replaced by Ashman for the final quarter.

3. Zander Fagerson – 6
Another who made his presence felt with ball in hand with several punishing carries and ploughed over for only his third try in his 66th Test. Not many scrums but the ones there were, particularly in the second half, saw Italy get on top at the set-piece. Replaced on the hour by Millar-Mills.

4. Grant Gilchrist – 5.5
His red scrum cap was to the fore in the tight exchanges and in the set-piece, claiming several lineouts including the one which led to a powerful maul finished off by Schoeman. The vice-captain tried to stem the flow of second-half penalties as he addressed the troops, but couldn’t wrestle back the momentum once it turned the Italians’ way.

5. Scott Cummings – 6
Conceded a penalty for sealing off at the opening ruck, and one of the culprits again in the second half as the Scots’ penalty count mounted in the wave of the Azzurri comeback. Supreme at the lineout where he was Scotland’s main target, double figures in tackles and several strong carries with ball in hand.

6. Andy Christie – 7
Promoted from the bench for his first Test start after six caps off the bench, the Saracens back-rower was one of the Scots’ bright spots. Safe under the kick-off receptions, a vital interception of Page-Relo’s pass and showed his pace with one brilliant 50m charge upfield after snaffling a loose Italian pass. Harshly pinged for not rolling away on one occasion, but vindicated his selection.

7. Rory Darge – 5.5
Not as influential as in previous games, despite one crucial turnover just before the interval. Made his fair share of tackles as always and carried well close in, but as co-captain, he was another who struggled to restore order as the game started to slip away.

8. Jack Dempsey – 6.5
A progression for the number eight who hit double figures for carries as he took the fight to Italy with ball in hand, hitting good angles and using his footwork. Also weighed in with a dozen tackles.

Replacements:

16. Ewan Ashman – 6
Replaced Turner for the final quarter and had a strong carry in the final knockings leading up to Skinner’s late try.

17. Alec Hepburn – 5
Took over from Schoeman on the hour and a couple of carries as Scotland tried to salvage matters.

18. Elliot Millar-Mills – 5
Replaced Zander Fagerson for the final 20 minutes but made little impression on either side of the ball.

19. Sam Skinner – 5.5
On for Grant Gilchrist for the final 10 minutes, he conceded a crucial penalty with nine minutes left but then won a lineout and barged his way over for the fourth try late on.

20. Jamie Ritchie – 5.5
The former captain showed up well in the final 10 minutes after replacing Darge with a couple of strong carries.

21. Matt Fagerson – 4.5
Came on for the impressive Christie on the hour but failed to bring the same level of impact as the man he replaced.

22. Ali Price – 5.5
Sent on for his old Glasgow mucker Horne to try to bring some composure, his sniping around the fringes was a threat, but ultimately wasn’t enough.

23. Kyle Rowe – NA
Back in the match-day squad after starting the first two games against Wales and France, but left on the bench.

By Bryn Palmer, @RugbyPass

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