HomeCricketItaly v Scotland: Match preview & BBC coverage

Italy v Scotland: Match preview & BBC coverage


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Duhan van der Merwe’s hat-trick against England leaves him one short of equalling Stuart Hogg as Scotland’s leading try-scorer
Venue: Stadio Olimpico Date: Saturday, 9 March Kick-off: 14:15 GMT
Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio Scotland Extra and the BBC Sport website and app; text commentary and highlights on BBC Sport website and app; watch live on ITV1

Scotland face Italy in their penultimate Six Nations match at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome on Saturday.

Gregor Townsend’s side have an outside chance of pipping Ireland to the title but finishing second for the first time in the Six Nations appears to be a more realistic target.

Duhan van der Merwe scored a hat-trick of tries as Scotland beat England two weeks ago to retain the Calcutta Cup.

The winger needs one try to match Stuart Hogg’s Scotland record of 27.

His overall total of five tries from three games makes him the top scorer in this year’s Championship.

Paolo Garbisi’s last-gasp penalty miss a fortnight ago meant Italy were denied a first Six Nations victory away to France, with the Azzurri having to settle for a 13-13 draw.

The result was not enough to move them off the bottom of the Six Nations table but did halt a run of seven consecutive defeats in the championship.

Ireland lead the Six Nations with three bonus-point wins, Scotland are second, England third, France fourth and Wales are fifth on points difference from Italy in sixth

Team news

Italy: There are three changes for the Azzurri, including a debut for wing Louis Lynagh, the son of Australia great Michael Lynagh.

His inclusion means Tommaso Menoncello moves back to centre, with Federico Mori dropping to the bench.

Flanker Sebastian Negri returns after missing two games through injury, replacing Riccardo Favretto, and prop Simone Ferrari comes in for Giosue Zilocchi, who is among the replacements.

Scotland: The visitors also makes three changes, including a first Six Nations start for George Horne, who comes in for first-choice scrum-half Ben White, who is rested.

Sione Tuipulotu will miss the rest of the tournament with a knee injury, so Cameron Redpath deputises at inside centre, while flanker Andy Christie earns his first Test start in place of Jamie Ritchie, who is a replacement.

Commentator’s notes

Sara Orchard: Scotland are favourites and should have enough experience to stop this game being turned into a banana-skin fixture.

All the hype is about the wings. From a Scottish perspective, Duhan van der Merwe is now one try away from equalling Stuart Hogg’s Scotland Test record. It’s now ‘when’ not ‘if’ he will break it.

For the Italians, the headlines focus on Louis Lynagh. Come 14:15 GMT on Saturday he’s officially Italian, having had three passports (England, Australia and Italy) to choose from. While Lynagh’s inclusion has created waves, the return to action of hulking back-rower Sebastian Negri will calm and assure Italian fans.

View from both camps

Italy head coach Gonzalo Quesada on debutant Louis Lynagh: “He will be up against a great player [Scotland wing Van der Merwe] but he plays and defends well, he’s a good communicator and we’re staying true to our philosophy of giving young players their chance.”

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend: “In terms of performance, we’re a little bit away from what we know we can deliver. The first 45 minutes against Wales is probably still the best we’ve played.

“We had elements of control throughout much of the France game and for the last 60 minutes of the England game. But there’s still a lot more to come from us.”


Italy: 15-Ange Capuozzo, 14-Louis Lynagh, 13-Ignacio Brex, 12-Tommaso Menoncello, 11-Monty Ioane, 10-Paolo Garbisi, 9-Martin Page-Relo; 1-Danilo Fischetti, 2-Giacomo Nicotera, 3-Simone Ferrari, 4-Niccolo Cannone, 5-Federico Ruzza, 6-Sebastian Negri, 7-Michele Lamaro (captain), 8-Ross Vintcent.

Replacements: 16-Gianmarco Lucchesi, 17-Mirco Spagnolo, 18-Giosue Zilocchi, 19-Andrea Zambonin, 20-Lorenzo Cannone, 21-Stephen Varney, 22-Leonardo Marin, 23-Federico Mori.

Scotland: 15-Blair Kinghorn, 14-Kyle Steyn, 13-Huw Jones, 12- Cameron Redpath, 11-Duhan van der Merwe, 10-Finn Russell (co-captain), 9-George Horne; 1-Pierre Schoeman, 2-George Turner, 3-Zander Fagerson, 4-Grant Gilchrist, 5-Scott Cummings, 6-Andy Christie, 7-Rory Darge (co-captain), 8-Jack Dempsey.

Replacements: 16-Ewan Ashman, 17-Alec Hepburn, 18-Elliot Millar-Mills, 19-Sam Skinner, 20-Jamie Ritchie, 21-Matt Fagerson, 22-Ali Price, 23-Kyle Rowe.

46% of Italy's Six Nations points this year have come in the final 20 minutes, more than any other side. Scotland have conceded 43% of their points in the final quarter

Match facts


  • Scotland have won the last 13 meetings in all competitions, including eight straight victories in the Six Nations.
  • Italy’s tally of seven Six Nations wins against Scotland is their best against any side in the tournament. They have a combined total of six victories against the other four nations since 2000.


  • The draw versus France leaves Italy vying to avoid defeat in back-to-back Six Nations fixtures for the first time in 11 years (they won their final game in 2012 and opening match in 2013).
  • The Azzurri have lost all 26 home games in the Six Nations since beating Ireland in 2013.


  • Gregor Townsend’s side have won seven of their past 10 away matches in the Six Nations, as many victories as they recorded in their previous 51 such fixtures (D1, L43).
  • Duhan van der Merwe is one short of equalling Stuart Hogg’s Scotland record of 27 tries.
  • Scotland have averaged 2.9 points per entry to the 22 in this year’s Six Nations, which is bettered only by Ireland’s figure of 3.4.

Match officials

Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)

Touch judges: Karl Dickson (England) & Adam Leal (England)

TMO: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa)

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