Ireland’s World Cup pool rivals Italy hit for 6 by Scotland

WINGER SEAN LAMONT and Tim Visser each plundered two tries apiece as Vern Cotter’s Scotland coasted to a record 48-7 win over Italy at Murrayfield.

The match was Scotland’s one and only warm-up match on home soil before the start of next month’s Rugby World Cup south of the border in England and the final score surpassed both the points score and margin of victory Scotland achieved in a 47-15 home win over Italy in a warm-up match prior to the 2003 World Cup.

Mark Bennett rounds off the scoring for Vern Cotter’s side. Source: Craig Watson

Flanker John Barclay, starting his first international for two years, and centre Mark Bennett also crossed the Italian try-line for the Scots, who followed up their 16-12 win against a shadow Italian side in Turin last week with a highly impressive step-up in performance.

The 43,831 crowd, a record for a World Cup warm-up match at Murrayfield, saw the home side take control from the start, captain Greig Laidlaw getting the scoreboard ticking with a fifth-minute penalty that followed a series of scrum infringements by the visitors.

Four minutes later, Scotland fly-half Finn Russell chipped a neat kick into the right corner and Lamont plucked the ball out of the air to score his 13th international try.

Laidlaw’s conversion made it 10-0 with ten minutes gone and Scotland proceeded to dominate the first half.

South African-born Willem Nel, making his first start at tighthead prop after qualifying for Scotland on residential grounds, gave Matias Aguero, Italy’s loosehead, a torrid time in the scrums and Russell orchestrated the backs with impressive precision.

The pressure told as Laidlaw landed two further penalties, stretching the lead to 16-0.

Only then did Italy show any attacking teeth, grounding an extremely fortunate score with their first serious offensive assault in the 30th minute.

Newcastle lock Josh Furno launched a line-out drive in the left corner and Tommaso Allan, Italy’s former Scotland Under-20 fly-half, chipped beyond the defence, but Laidlaw or Visser combined to drop the pill , allowing outside centre Michele Campagnaro to score.

The gap was down to 16-7, but in the final minute of the first half, Italy had openside flanker Francesco Minto yellow-carded for bringing down a maul. From the forward drive that followed, Barclay squeezed over the line.

Leading 23-7 at the break, Scotland pressed home their superiority eight minutes into the second half.

Russell looped a long pass into the left corner and Dutch-born Visser bagged his eighth international try.

Laidlaw steered his conversion attempt wide but the Gloucester scrum-half nailed a fourth penalty in the 56th minute and six minutes after that Scotland were 36-7 ahead, Lamont snaffling a stray pass to score an interception try on the right.

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Italy were then reduced to 14 men again, replacement prop Michele Rizzo being sent to the sin-bin after aiming a kick towards the head of Scotland substitute prop Gordon Reid in the 69th minute.

It got worse for Jacques Brunel’s side in the final eight minutes, Visser and Bennett both running in interception tries from long range.

Scotland complete their warm-up campaign away to France in Paris next week. Italy face Wales in Cardiff.

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