Five things we learned from Italy 20 - 36 Scotland

Scotland's Greig Laidlaw celebrates his side's win. Picture: PA
Scotland's Greig Laidlaw celebrates his side's win. Picture: PA
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Iain Morrison reflects on Scotland’s long-awaited victory in the Six Nations Championship

We said that this Scottish team wasn’t far off the pace

The Scots won by three tries to two and scored a record number of points in the Six Nations Championship which is good going by any standards. Most pleasingly the team did not let the pressure of the situation (nine successive losses in the Six Nations) affect the way they played because Scotland continued to throw the ball about, even from behind their own goal line at one nerve wrecking point in the second half.

The Scottish front row gets better by the game

Italy won several scrum penalties against France, usually considered the yardstick of any international set scrum, but Scotland not only eclipsed the Azzurri they humiliated them. In the very last play of the game a makeshift Scotland scrum, with Moray Low at prop and Duncan Taylor on the flank, still managed to milk a penalty from the Italians. It was one of about five penalties that Scotland’s scrum won all afternoon, the best Scottish scrummaging of this millennium with the possible exception of 2010 when Euan Murray tamed Tendai “the Beast” Mtawarira.

Scotland still can’t catch restarts

We have been here before and more often than anyone cares to remember... the RWC’11 against Argentina, RWC’15 against Samoa, RWC’15 against Australia, against Wales two weeks ago etc etc etc! Following Laidlaw’s first penalty of the second half Sergio Parisse wins the restart and Italy keep the ball until Kelly Haimona’s 50th minute penalty. Following Laidlaw’s second penalty of the second half, Parisse again wins the restart and Italy keep the ball until Marco Fuser’s 62nd minute try. Even on the Italian kick off to start the match Richie Gray had the ball batted out of his hands by an Italian winger although Scotland recovered the ball.

Our driving maul still needs work

Scotland may have stopped Italy’s driving maul pretty effectively on Saturday but the visitors never got their own driving game out of first gear. It is not Scotland’s natural game but you have to mix things up and an efficient driving maul is a handy weapon in any team’s arsenal but Scotland can’t seem to get their going. Given their scrum supremacy this may be a technical shortfall rather than a lack of heft.

Scotland’s defence still does not inspire much confidence

This is especially true when big men are picking and driving near the line. Admittedly they held out for some time against Italy but, still, Fuser’s try came after just five/six phases of play following a five metre attacking lineout. Yes, Scotland were short-handed at the time, but it was Finn Russell in the bin not one of the big beasts. If the Scots allow Fuser to score so easily, the giant French forwards will offer an even greater test of Scotland’s resolve.

READ MORE - Six Nations: Scots to remain grounded after long-awaited win

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