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LONDON, Feb 9 (Reuters) - Scotland played with aggression, discipline and attacking ambition to beat Italy 34-10 in the Six Nations on Saturday, their first win in this year’s championship.
Tries from Tim Visser, Matt Scott, Stuart Hogg and Sean Lamont as well as 14 points from the boot of man-of-the-match Greig Laidlaw helped Scotland overwhelm an Italy team who came into the match full of confidence after beating France last weekend.
In a match often billed as the wooden spoon decider, Scotland, who were soundly beaten 38-18 by England on the opening weekend, were superior in all areas and capitalised on a string of Italian errors.
It was their first victory at Murrayfield after five successive defeats and quashed Italian hopes of building on last week’s impressive display against the pre-championship favourites.
“We had opportunities and we scored off them which was a great sign of things to come from this team. But in two weeks time we are going to have to do it again,” interim coach Scott Johnson said on the BBC.
“I just want to congratulate them because they put in a hard week. We will enjoy the night, that’s why we play the sport, when we reassemble on Tuesday we will be all on for Ireland.”
The Italians enjoyed the early territorial advantage, but this began to seep away as the errors crept in and they fell behind after 15 minutes when a Laidlaw penalty from 30 metres soared between the posts.
That lead was doubled nine minutes later when Andrea Lo Cicero, winning his 100th cap, was penalised for pulling down the maul and Laidlaw stepped up to notch another three points.
Scotland began to showcase their attacking fluency with Scott prevented from going over after a high-speed dash down the left flank thanks to a superb last-ditch tackle from Tobias Botes.
A minute later, however, Dutch-born winger Visser jinked past two Italian defenders before going over for his fifth try in seven internationals.
Luciano Orquera, who had endured a miserable first half, in stark contrast to his match-wining display last weekend, made Italy’s first mark on the scoreboard with a penalty a minute before the break.
If the Italians hoped that would give them a platform to build off they were swiftly brought down to earth after the restart as Scotland extended their lead with two quick tries.
Scott took a lovely offload from Sean Maitland to cross before Hogg intercepted a pass from the forlorn Orquera to gallop 80 metres for his second try in consecutive matches.
Laidlaw added the conversions to put the hosts 27-3 up after only eight minutes of the second half.
After Scott had a second try ruled out for a forward pass, Lamont added the final gloss to the scoreline when he picked up a loose ball and ran 50 metres for another excellent individual effort.
Italy’s Alessandro Zanni bundled the ball over late on for a consolation try but it came too late to spark a revival or dampen Scottish celebrations.
“I was fortunate to pick up man of the match but that was because everyone of the forwards did their job. I had an easy ride today, I really enjoyed the game,” Laidlaw said.
“We’re not getting carried away, we’ve had wins before, we need to go away and understand why we won and take it from there.”
Scotland next face Ireland at Murrayfield on Feb. 24, a day after Italy host Wales. (Reporting by Toby Davis; editing by Justin Palmer)