Scotland can lock up third spot in the 2023 Six Nations if they secure a bonus-point win over Italy on home soil at Murrayfield this afternoon.
Scotland’s championship started with such promise as they continued their recent Calcutta Cup domination over England before ending their hoodoo against Wales to head into the first rest week with their grand slam aspirations still alive.
Gregor Townsend then saw his troops slip to back-to-back defeats to France and Ireland, despite decent performances in both games. Victory over Italy would cap a solid Six Nations heading into a daunting World Cup group but a shock loss would undermine a lot of the work they have done to this point.
The Azzurri showed plenty of positive signs in their first three games of this championship but a winnable game against a Wales side in disarray saw them produce a limp display and slip to a frustrating defeat, giving them just one more chance to salvage their Six Nations campaign.
Follow live coverage from the first game on Six Nations Super Saturday below:
Scotland 0-3 Italy, 12 minutes
Hint of an overlap…away from the waiting players! Italy just about rush up in time to hassle Blair Kinghorn playing the link out the back, with the fly-half’s flick missing two teammates outside him.
But Scotland daren’t dally – George Turner taps and goes quickly, and has Van der Merwe managed to acrobatically dot down in the corner?
Harry Latham-Coyle18 March 2023 12:42
Scotland 0-3 Italy, 11 minutes
Italy’s maul defence is rather better formed than their hosts’ was a few minutes ago, but Duhan van der Merwe ensures Scotland retain some form of momentum by skipping by a couple of would-be tacklers.
Sione Tuipulotu shows brightly on a couple of occasions, niftily shifting on from his chest to Van der Merwe as he is tackled low. Advantage coming; pressure building…
Harry Latham-Coyle18 March 2023 12:41
Scotland 0-3 Italy, 9 minutes
Italy have kicked possession every time they’ve had it so far, but there’s the adventure we’ve so associated them with during this tournament, forwards and backs playing to width inside their own 22. A wayward pass hits the deck to end that particular exploration, and Alessandro Fusco is forced to rather hurry a box kick away.
It fails to find touch and back come Scotland, with Edoardo Iachizzi pinged for grabbing Ben White before the scrum-half has hands on the ball. Scotland poke the penalty into the Italian 22.
Harry Latham-Coyle18 March 2023 12:40
PENALTY! Scotland 0-3 ITALY (Tommaso Allan penalty, 8 minutes)
Indeed he does. From just right of centre inside the Scotland 22, Allan puts Italy ahead.
Harry Latham-Coyle18 March 2023 12:38
Scotland 0-0 Italy, 6 minutes
That’s a statement of intent from the Italian maul – forwards they march, with Scotland struggling to halt them legally. George Turner is penalised for falling beneath it, and with the advantage coming Italy spread it.
Two more penalisable infringements against Scotland – might Angus Gardner consider a card? No, just back for the penalty as Juan Ignacio Brex’s wide fling evades Simone Gesi.
Italy aren’t tempted to try again at the lineout; Tommaso Allan will surely this time knock through the three.
Harry Latham-Coyle18 March 2023 12:37
Scotland 0-0 Italy, 5 minutes
A defensive breakdown infringement gives Italy another penalty in not dissimilar position, but Paolo Garbisi takes charge and will punt down into the Scottish 22.
Lovely kick. Giacomo Nicotera will throw 12 metres out.
Harry Latham-Coyle18 March 2023 12:35
Missed penalty! Scotland 0-0 Italy, 4 minutes
Not the best of starts from the tee from Tommaso Allan, once of Scotland’s Under-20s. A bit of a snap hook, and away to the left from 40 metres out.
Harry Latham-Coyle18 March 2023 12:34
Scotland 0-0 Italy, 2 minutes
Juan Ignacio Brex carves on an outside arc before straightening, well held by a crabbing Kinghorn. Tommaso Allan steps in at first receiver and launches an up-and-under.
A couple more kicks and Italy get over the ball as Scotland take contact, Danilo Fischetti knifing in after Scotland’s initial clearers fail to protect a tackled Duhan van der Merwe. Italy will have first go at starting the scoring.
Harry Latham-Coyle18 March 2023 12:33
Scotland 0-0 Italy, 1 minute
Sharp start from Jack Dempsey, catching and shimmying to find Italy a little short on the left, allowing Duhan van der Merwe to go thumping up the touchline.
Scotland soon test Italy’s aerial acumen. A couple of phases later and Italy also look to the skies, with Blair Kinghorn taking with a juggle and launching a useful touch-finder from inside his own 22. Italy’s lineout inside their own half.
Harry Latham-Coyle18 March 2023 12:31
Off we go…
The best part of seven hours of almost non-stop rugby ahead of us – are you ready?
Paolo Garbisi is the opening act on this Super Saturday. The Italy fly-half has the ball, Angus Gardner blows his whistle, and Scotland vs Italy is underway!
Harry Latham-Coyle18 March 2023 12:30