SINGAPORE, 10 June 2017 – Scotland coach Gregor Townsend was rewarded with a well-deserved 34-13 win over Italy for his first match in charge in the first ever international test played between two Six Nations teams in Southeast Asia.
The Scots delivered a five-try victory for their coach in front of over 9,000 fans at the Singapore National Stadium and were off to a fast start when flyhalf Finn Russell kicked Scotland into an early 3-0 lead after just six minutes. Italy drew level through a Tommaso Allan penalty in the 10th minute and managed to hold the Scots for most of the first half.
Scotland finally made the breakthrough in the 38th minute when scrumhalf Ali Price dived over the line for a 8-3 lead. On the stroke of half-time, Scotland scored yet another try when Tim Visser gathered a delightful chip kick from Russell. Duncan Taylor stepped up to convert for a 15-3 half time lead for Scotland.
The Scottish team started the second-half as they finished the first half with a try. Just two minutes after the restart, Ben Toolis rose highest to claim a line-out and the Azzurris defence could do nothing to stop the rolling maul powering over its try line as veteran hooker Ross Ford grounded the first of his two tries.
Things got from bad to worse for Italy when lock Dean Budd was sent to the sin bin for repeated infringements and a minute later, Scotland got the crowd on their feet through quick, off-loading rugby and a sensational team try which gave Ford his second try of the night as the Scots pushed to a 27-3 lead.
A Scotland handling error in the 67th minute allowed Italy flanker Maxime Mbanda to race clear before offloading to Michele Campagnaro to score Italy’s first try and to make the score 8-27.
In the 72th minute, Italy’s discipline failed them once again when Abraham Steyn earned a yellow for a dangerous play on Henry Pyrgos and a minute later, Scotland scored their fifth try of the night through Damien Hoyland, which Peter Horne converted from the touchline for a 34-8 lead.
In the dying moments, Italy managed to make the scoreline look more respectable when winger Angela Esposito dived over in the corner to make it 13-34.
“I’m pleased to get the win, but we have a few things to work on,” said Scottish coach Townsend. “We knew conditions were going to be tough. It’s our first game together and we started well. Italy is a tough opponent and you need to keep working at it. The players kept believing themselves and worked hard to get the two tries before half time. Our team played some good rugby in the second half and our set-pieces were key to our victory.”
“Scotland is fifth in the world for a reason, but we held them for 38 minutes and we invited the pressure upon ourselves,“ shared Italy coach Conor O’Shea. ”Our guys never stop trying, but we had some tough calls tonight and it’s hard to play with one less man. We had to really make up ground and we need to work on our discipline. We don’t like to lose, what’s frustrating is we shot ourselves in the foot. We played some incredible defence as Scotland had a lot of possession. I’m proud of the boys as they kept going and deserved the two tries in the end.”
Scotland will travel to Australia to play the Wallabies on 17 June in Sydney, before taking on Fiji on 24 June in Suva. Italy will be facing Fiji next Saturday in Suva as part of their Summer tour.