Scotland thrashes hapless Italy

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Two tries from hooker David Cherry on his first start, plus a double from Duhan van der Merwe, helped the home side steam to an emphatic win, and Scotland should head to France in good spirits for the finale to their campaign next Saturday (AEDT).

After home defeats to Ireland and Wales earlier in the campaign, either side of a shock Calcutta Cup triumph at Twickenham, this was a match that coach Gregor Townsend and Scotland knew they must win.

Italy's last victory in the championship came against the Scots at Murrayfield in 2015, and although a sketchy start from the home team may have had Scotland fans worried, in front of empty stands the home side was able to rapidly regroup and overwhelm its visitors.

In 2007, a hapless Scotland team trailed Italy 21-0 after six minutes at Murrayfield after three tries, on its way to a 37-17 defeat. This time it was 7-0 to the Azzurri at that early stage after hooker Luca Bigi drove over in the left corner and Paolo Garbisi added a magnificent touchline kick.

Cherry burrowed over for a swift response, before Van der Merwe ran in a second Scotland try, dashing down the left and taking his time before dotting down under the posts.

Italy lost Federico Mori to a yellow card for a dangerous dash at Sam Johnson, and Scotland took advantage, moving the ball well through hands to allow Darcy Graham and Huw Jones to plunder further tries.

Cherry powered through Italian blue shirts as Scotland drove a maul at Italy's line in the 45th minute, bagging his second try of the game. Stuart Hogg, having missed two of his four conversion attempts in the first half, nailed an excellent kick from just inside the right touchline to give Scotland a 31-10 cushion.

Sebastian Negri was the next Italy player to be yellow-carded, and scrum half Scott Steele boosted the Scotland lead from close range moments later. Monty Ioane followed Negri to the sin bin after picking up Hogg and dumping him to the ground.

Johnson dived in for a try and Van der Merwe streaked away for another to add to the misery of a disorientated Italy, which has now lost on 32 consecutive outings in the Six Nations.


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