Blair Kinghorn steps into role of Scotland’s magician for try of the tournament

·30-min read
Blair Kinghorn running with the ball - Scotland v Italy result: Blair Kinghorn's hat-trick try breaks Italian hearts - Getty Images/Andy Buchanan
Blair Kinghorn running with the ball - Scotland v Italy result: Blair Kinghorn's hat-trick try breaks Italian hearts - Getty Images/Andy Buchanan

By Fiona Tomas at Murrayfield

Talk about finishing on a high. Camped on their own line, and with their pride in danger of being further wounded, Scotland completed their Six Nations campaign with the most extraordinary try of the tournament.

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Having held off Italy, who were within striking distance, Scotland could have easily kicked the ball out with the clock in the red. But this is a more tenacious and a more daring Scottish outfit than we have seen in recent years and they executed a wondrous counter-attacking try.

After winning a penalty advantage from the scrum, Duhan van der Merwe blitzed down the wing after being released by a miss pass before feeding the ball back to Blair Kinghorn, Scotland’s stand-in fly-half, who glided over at the death for his well-deserved hat-trick. Murrayfield groaned a sigh of relief as Italy were condemned to their eighth wooden spoon in as many seasons.

This was a test of Scotland’s character more than anything else, given the key personnel they were missing. For only the second time in a Six Nations match since 2012, they were without star duo Stuart Hogg and Finn Russell.

The pair’s absence seemed to rattle them at first as Italy grabbed the game by the scruff of its neck early on. But when it mattered, Kinghorn, who has arguably been Scotland’s most consistent performer during this Six Nations, stepped up.

The Edinburgh man has excelled as a utility back off the bench throughout the championship and in this momentum-swinging game, he was Scotland’s magician.

His three-try performance will raise questions about whether he should have been given more opportunity to showcase his obvious capabilities – particularly at full-back – especially given that Hogg is not the player he once was. 
Assured under the highball and fearlessly running at Italy’s defence, he found enough wriggle room to tiptoe to the whitewash in the first half after Van der Merwe had produced an exquisite acrobatic finish in the corner to get Scotland up and running.

In a game in which he underlined his credentials as a viable secondary fly-half option for the World Cup, he showed great athleticism to wrestle over the line minutes after the break after Italy were caught off their feet. Gregor Townsend, Scotland’s head coach, was left hailing the 26-year-old’s versatility.

“He’s been our back-up ten this season, so for him to get minutes there will be good for him long-term,” said Townsend. “Moving to fullback as well, he can show his pace and his running game in that area, that’s been a positive from the campaign.

“I love the fact he took on the line on a couple of occasions because one of his biggest strengths is his running game and we encourage our tens to run, so to take on defenders close to the line and get tries was great reward for that.”

Scotland have shown great attacking enterprise during this campaign, but were ultimately thwarted by their inability to deliver a complete 80-minute performance.  

They will wonder what might have been had they not suffered that second-half capitulation to Ireland last week and having had the wind knocked out of them by France. It was almost a similar story against Italy – they allowed Kieran Crowley's resurgent side back into a contest they were in control of when Tommaso Allan’s try and a Paolo Garbisi penalty reduced the hosts’ lead to just five points to set up a tense final 20 minutes.

“I said before that I thought a good campaign for us would be five good performances – not necessarily based on results,” said Jamie Ritchie, Scotland’s captain. “It was probably four and a half good performances. That second half against Ireland and that 20-minute period in the second half today were probably the only times where I thought we weren’t the better team in the game. Overall, it’s been a really good campaign, we’re outright third, which I think behind the two top teams in the world, is a positive, with that game against France being the one that got away.”

As for Italy, they have proved their competitive value in this tournament and have beguiled many with their attacking flair, but are still missing the final piece of the jigsaw. Marco Ricconi was given his marching orders for repeatedly collapsing the scrum – an area where they woefully struggled all afternoon – although Crowley bullishly talked up the positives.

“If I was taking a step back and had to look at what the boys had put there over those last five games, they have made massive strides,” he said. “We have that respect and credibility and now we have to turn that into positive results.”

Match details

Scores: 0-3 Allan pen, 5-3 Van der Merwe try, 5-6 Allan pen, 10-6 Kinghorn try, 12-6 Kinghorn pen, 17-6 Kinghorn try, 19-11 Kinghorn con, 19-11 Allan try, 19-14 Garbisi pen, Kinghorn try 24-19, 26-14 Kinghorn con.

Scotland: O Smith (B Healy 67); K Steyn, H Jones, S Tuipolutu (C Redpath 67), D Van der Merwe; B Kinghorn, B White (A Price 59); P Schoeman (R Sutherland 59), G Turner (E Ashman 50), Z Fagerson (WP Nel 71), S Skinner, J Gray (S Cummings 59), J Ritchie, H Watson (M Fagerson 50) J Dempsey.
Italy: T Allan; P Bruno, J Brex, L Morisi (M Zanon 70), S Gesi; P Garbisi; A Fusco (A Garbisi 50); D Fischetti (F Zani 56), G Nicotera (M Manfredi 72), M Riccioni (P Ceccarelli 78), E Iachizzi (N Cannone 32), F Ruzza, S Negri (M Zuliani 45), M Lamaro, L Cannone (G Pettinelli 59).
Booked: Riccioni (29).
Referee: Angus Gardner.
Attendance: 67,144.

Scotland v Italy: As it happened...

03:16 PM

Final thoughts

So Scotland finish their campaign with a nervy bonus-point win at the death and will finish third barring a huge England win later in Dublin. Italy finish winless and bottom. That's all from us. The Six Nations continues however with France vs Wales, which you can follow here

03:12 PM

Townsend speaking about his future

"We'll see if this is my last Six Nations.

"We're going to have to come to a decision - I'd imagine there'll be a decision at some point over the next few weeks.

"I love days like today, even in the bad moments when you're under pressure, to be involved with your national team - there's nothing better.

"My focus has just been on the coaching the last few weeks. I need some time to reflect and see what's going to happen after that."

03:11 PM

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend post-game

"You've got to trust that the players will front up defensively, which is what they did. To win a penalty at the scrum was great to see, and the try was even better."

When asked about Blair Kinghorn, he said:

"He did really well. Blair's got a strong running game, so when he's got chances to take on the defence we encourage him to do that.

"We didn't have much ball for him to work with the backline as much, but there was a lot of glimpses there that we had Italy under pressure. We should have put the foot down more in the second half, but credit to Italy - they came back and had a lot of ball, lots of defending for us to do.

"It's been an eventful Six Nations! France was a really encouraging performance; the last two weeks maybe weren't as good overall. You get that in sport, and we're just glad we finished with a win."

03:05 PM

Scotland's players celebrate

Scotland players walk around the pitch after the game with the Cuttitta Cup - Russell Cheyne/Reuters
Scotland players walk around the pitch after the game with the Cuttitta Cup - Russell Cheyne/Reuters

03:01 PM

Scotland's reward

03:00 PM

Thoughts of Italy head coach Kieran Crowley

"Scotland finished their opportunities, we didn't finish ours. We keep turning up at the office and hopefully a bounce will go our way one day.

"It was one hell of a game - they gave it everything, we gave it everything.

"It's not for lack of effort. We're playing an up-tempo game - we have to keep putting our players under that pressure in training and learn to execute a little bit better.

"We can improve. If you look at all five games we've had opportunities but haven't effected them. It's something we can build on."

02:59 PM

Former Scotland captain John Barclay's views on Blair Kinghorn

"I'd pick Kinghorn at fullback.

"When Ben Healy came on the balance of play was a bit better. It's maybe unfair on Blair - I think he's been superb in the Championship.

"When Scotland play on top of teams and are very physical, they're very dangerous. You feel that desperation to play with width because they're so dangerous.

"If they can get that balance right and put pressure on teams by playing through the middle, they'll get even more reward out wide."

02:53 PM

Tight affair at Murrayfield

02:52 PM

Stuart Hogg full of praise for Blair Kinghorn

"Blair's a class act, and he gets a lot of pelters towards him being a stand-in for Finn Russell.

"Yes, he was today, but he was incredible, and for everything that comes his way, it doesn't seem to phase him whatsoever.

"He works incredibly hard, brings a huge amount of energy, and every time he's had an opportunity this Six Nations campaign, he's made a hell of an impact.

"I thought he was quality today and he'll learn a great deal from that. We're not going to be in a position to rely on Finn Russell forever, and to have someone of Blair's quality to step in is massive for Scotland."

02:50 PM

Scotland captain Jamie Ritchie on BBC

"When you win a Test match it's always a good feeling. Italy have deserved more from this tournament, they've played a lot of good rugby and they put us under huge amounts of pressure. I'm delighted we won that.

"We had a penalty advantage and we're a team that loves to play. In the larger context of the competition, five points is important. It was an opportunity for us to have a free play.

"Blair did really well, he's been brilliant all week. He's been brilliant throughout the tournament. You've seen that when he's come off the bench for us. He's brought impact and tempo, I'm glad he got his start today.

"Before the tournament, I said five good performances; we got four and a half. Today was a tough one, it was a solid performance. We dug it out, and we did well in the end. Hopefully we're third behind the two top teams in the world."

02:46 PM

Kinghorn's hat-trick try at the death

02:45 PM

Stuart Hogg's post-match thoughts on BBC

"Very frustrating. For Scotland, we were in control for large periods and then last 10 minutes was harem-scarem. We can count ourselves lucky. That last try doesn't reflect the scoreline.

"It's a Scotland win, five points in a Test match and that's all you can ask for.

"We always talk about our conversion rate. Every visit you get into the 22, you want to come away with points of some sort. It took us 5-10 minutes to come away with points, because we were at it - scrum after scrum.

"We didn't really capitalise on our possession. We'll learn a hell of a lot from that and it'll stand us in good stead going forward. If you're not on it for 80 minutes, you aren't going to win Test matches."

02:38 PM

Thoughts from the Scotland camp

Scotland's Jack Dempsey was named Player of the Match, and he has been talking to the BBC:

"Bit scary towards the end there. Credit to the front row with a big scrum to get us out of trouble. It was knee shaking stuff!

"I'm lucky to be surrounded by a forward pack that works so hard. Obviously Blair and Duhan shining at the end. They are a grindy team - they want to stay in the game and scrape a result out at the end.

"Disappointing overall. We attacked this tournament after the first two rounds with eyes on everything, but the French team and Irish team were a bit too classy for us, and we didn';t perfrom the way we'd like to.

"For me personally, my first time in a tournament like this - it's amazing to come up here and see the quality of rugby in Europe."

02:35 PM

Former Scotland captain John Barclay on BBC

"I enjoyed the last minute. The previous 39 were pretty tough.

"That could have gone either way, it was the flip of a coin. Italy, another game where they were in a position where they were unable to execute.

"They're doing enough in games to be right in amongst it."

02:34 PM

Impact on the standings

This bonus-point win for Scotland all but guarantees a third-place finish, unless England win big in Dublin later this afternoon. Italy haven't won any of their five games in this year's Six Nations, but their performances have deserved more than just one solitary bonus point. They will finish bottom of the table on one point, but have been much improved compared to recent years. Italy should have scored right at the death to win and they will rue those missed opportunities. Scotland will know they got away with one there

02:28 PM

Former Wales captain Sam Warburton on BBC

"I'm on my feet. What a fantastic finish to this game. Great courage from Scotland. The easy thing would be to kick it out.

"It was reminiscent of the England game back in round one. What a finish and a nod to Kinghorn, what a hat-trick."

02:27 PM

Dramatic end to proceedings at Murrayfield

02:26 PM

What a finish

Former Scotland international Chris Paterson on BBC:

"Let the noise sink in. The tension, the nerves. To play when the clock is in the red, underneath your own sticks, it's a brilliant decision.

"Van der Merwe lights up the pitch. Look how hard Kinghorn has to work to support him. My oh my, what a finish."

02:22 PM

FULL-TIME: Scotland 26 Italy 14

Kinghorn converts his hat-trick try and that is full-time. Scotland were under huge pressure on their own line in the final five minutes but in the end break down the field and score the bonus point try. That feels incredibly harsh on Italy, who on the whole in this year's Six Nations have been much improved without the results to back it up.

02:21 PM

80 mins; TRY Scotland 24 Italy 14

Penalty advantage for Scotland, and they decide to play it and go for the bonus point try. And what an inspired decision that was. Van der Merwe makes the initial break down the touchline, carries it a long way down the field and feeds it inside to Kinghorn. He has the legs to score the bonus point try under the posts. So cruel on the Italians

02:18 PM

79 mins: Scotland 19 Italy 14

Italy take the quick tap but knock on close to the Scotland line. Italy really should have scored and taken the lead late on but haven't taken their opportunities. Scotland scrum under their own sticks...

02:17 PM

78 mins: Scotland 19 Italy 14

Another opportunity squandered by Italy but the referee goes back to a penalty advantage

02:16 PM

77 mins: Scotland 19 Italy 14

It looks like Italy have butchered the opportunity but Scotland are penalised for offside five metres from their own line

02:14 PM

75 mins: Scotland 19 Italy 14

Penalty for Italy near the Scotland 22 which they will kick to the corner. Tension building around Murrayfield

02:10 PM

Allan's try

02:10 PM

70 mins: Scotland 19 Italy 14

Changes for both sides. WP Nel replaces Z Fagerson for Scotland and Morisi comes on for Italy

02:08 PM

69 mins: Scotland 19 Italy 14

End-to-end stuff at Murrayfield. Italy turn the ball over deep in Scotland's half but Price intercepts. He makes huge distance down the field and Scotland go through the phases. However Italy manage to win a penalty and have a line-out around half-way

02:06 PM

67 mins: Scotland 19 Italy 14

Double change for Scotland. Healy and Redpath on for Smith and Tuipulotu. Healy, the former Munster man, comes on for his Scotland debut despite playing for Ireland at Under-20 level

02:03 PM

66 mins: Scotland 19 Italy 14

Garbisi's penalty is good from about 40 metres out. Just five points separate these sides now. Pressure on Scotland, momentum building for Italy

02:02 PM

64 mins: Scotland 19 Italy 11

Italy win a penalty and certainly have the momentum now. They choose to go for goal to reduce the gap to just five points...

02:00 PM

63 mins: Scotland 19 Italy 11

Allan's conversion from the touchline is unsuccessful. Had he got the conversion it would have been a one-score game

02:00 PM

62 mins: TRY Scotland 19 Italy 11

Beautifully worked try down the blindside from the Italians. Garbisi puts a delightful little kick through for Allan to pick up and score in the corner. Italy are back in this game. Still 17 minutes to go

01:58 PM

60 mins: Scotland 19 Italy 6

Italy have a penalty after Scotland are caught offside. Changes for the hosts as Schoeman, Gray and White are replaced by Sutherland, Cummings and Price

01:54 PM

56 mins: Scotland 19 Italy 6

After Italy concede a scrum penalty, the away side replace their starting props. Fischetti and Riccioni, who both ply their trade in the Gallagher Premiership with London Irish and Saracens, are replaced by Zani and Ceccarelli

01:50 PM

53 mins: Scotland 19 Italy 6

Italy have a line-out close to the Scotland but they lose possession and the hosts are able to clear their lines

01:47 PM

51 mins: Scotland 19 Italy 6

Couple of changes for Scotland. Ashman and M Fagerson on for Turner and Watson

01:45 PM

Kinghorn's second try of the game

01:43 PM

48 mins: Scotland 19 Italy 6

Italy don't win the initial line-out but regain possession. They can't take advantage of it and the ball goes out for a Scotland line-out

01:42 PM

47 mins: Scotland 19 Italy 6

Italy scrum-half Fusco makes a great break put his pass to winger Gesi is too far in front and Scotland have a line-out. The line-out isn't straight and Italy have a line-out

01:40 PM

45 mins: Scotland 19 Italy 6

Kinghorn's conversion just goes inside the left post and Scotland's advantage is now 13 points

01:38 PM

44 mins: TRY Scotland 17 Italy 6

Scotland extend their lead early in the second half. After Scotland bang on the door phase after phase, Kinghorn bursts through a couple of tackles to reach out and score his second of the game

01:37 PM

Injured Scotland full-back Stuart Hogg on BBC at half-time

"We'll back ourselves to score points. We were saying take three points on the sidelines but Jamie and the rest of the leaders felt they had momentum behind them and kept plugging away.

"There's been some good things and some not so good things, but you have to give massive credit to the Italians. They're a gritty bunch and they probably haven't gotten their rewards. We count ourselves lucky not to concede."

01:35 PM

40 mins: Scotland 12 Italy 6

We are back underway at Murrayfield and the home side lead by six points

01:35 PM

Fiona Tomas at Murrayfield

Scotland had Italy on the ropes for much of that first half, but it really did take them time to find their groove.

I'm sat in front of Scotland's coaching box and the groans during the first quarter of an hour - when the hosts gave away three breakdown penalties - were mightily audible.

So far they've fronted up well without their talisman Stuart Hogg and Finn Russell - and Blair Kinghorn has underlined his capabilities at fly-half. He will surely slot in as an understudy at ten should anything happen to Russell at the World Cup later this year.

For all their solid work in defence, Italy are really struggling at the scrum. Referee Angus Gardner twice gave Michele Lamaro's men a stern talking to before having no option but to give Riccioni his marching orders. They'll have to tidy up in that area after the break if the increasingly unlikely event they want to avoid the wooden spoon...

01:32 PM

Italy creating their own downfall

Former England captain Martin Johnson on BBC:

"It's taken a lot out of me watching that, it's so frustrating. Italy are creating their own downfall. I know they want to play but they tried to run from deep twice and never recovered. They're so close at times but then they make that mistake."

01:27 PM

Kinghorn scores Scotland's second try

01:26 PM

Former Scotland captain John Barclay on BBC

"There's been lots of good from Scotland, dominating possession and territory. But, they have been a little careless with the ball and not converted as many opportunities as they should have."

01:25 PM

Top finish

01:21 PM

HALF-TIME: Scotland 12 Italy 6

The Italians kick the ball out under pressure and that is half-time. Italy started well but Scotland have had a lot of possession inside the Italy half. The hosts should probably be further ahead, especially having had a man advantage for 10 minutes in that first half

01:20 PM

40 mins: Scotland 12 Italy 6

Italy have possession near the Scotland 22 but the hosts win a penalty at the breakdown and rather than kick the ball out for half time they go for a line-out. Scotland work it well from the line-out, going from one side to the other. Steyn goes through and tries to offload to his inside but the Italians re-gain possession near their own line

01:16 PM

39 mins: Scotland 12 Italy 6

Scotland have possession for a sustained period of time but eventually lose the ball and in the process concede a penalty. Italy are now back up their full compliment of 15 men. Final chance of the first half for the Italians

01:12 PM

35 mins: Scotland 12 Italy 6

Italy have possession inside the Scotland 22 despite being a man down. However the Italians knock the ball on five metres out from the Scotland line and the home side have a scrum underneath their posts

01:10 PM

Kinghorn scores for Scotland

01:10 PM

Flying van der Merwe

Scotland winger Duhan van der Merwe leaps and scores - Andrew Milligan/PA
Scotland winger Duhan van der Merwe leaps and scores - Andrew Milligan/PA

01:06 PM

30 mins: TRY Scotland 12 Italy 6

From the next scrum, scrum-half White takes the ball from the back and feeds it to Kinghorn who powers over for his 11th international try. He converts his own try

01:04 PM

29 mins: Scotland 5 Italy 6

Riccioni is sin-binned after conceding yet another penalty at the scrum. Former international referee Nigel Owens has questioned on BBC whether that was the right call

01:02 PM

28 mins: Scotland 5 Italy 6

Another scrum penalty for Scotland. Referee Angus Gardner gives Italian tighthead prop Riccioni a talking to. Another penalty against him and you would think he will go to the bin

01:01 PM

27 mins: Scotland 5 Italy 6

Penalty for Scotland at the scrum. They choose another scrum. Considering how long the Scots have spent a few metres out from Italy's line, they need to take advantage

12:59 PM

26 mins: Scotland 5 Italy 6

Italy manage to turn the ball over but knock on in the process. Scrum for Scotland

12:58 PM

25 mins: Scotland 5 Italy 6

Scotland win a free-kick against the head. They take it quickly...

12:56 PM

23 mins: Scotland 5 Italy 6

Scotland captain Ritchie knocks on from the line-out and Italy withstand a period of serious pressure on their own line. Scrum to Italy

12:55 PM

22 mins: Scotland 5 Italy 6

Huge pressure on the Italians right on their own line. Scotland knock on and Italy are given a penalty. However the TMO intervenes and determines that the knock on was caused by a no-arms tackle by Italy and Scotland have a penalty five metres out

12:52 PM

20 mins: Scotland 5 Italy 6

Scotland kick for the corner after winning a penalty. Turner breaks off the maul and is inches short. The ball is spread wide but the ball goes out for another Scotland line-out on the other side of the pitch

12:49 PM

Great finish from van der Merwe

12:47 PM

15 mins; Scotland 5 Italy 6

Allan takes advantage and the Italians re-take the lead

12:47 PM

14 mins: Scotland 5 Italy 3

Immediately from the kick-off Italy have a chance to re-take the lead from a penalty

12:44 PM

12 mins: TRY Scotland 5 Italy 3

It is a try and what a great finish by van der Merwe. Garbisi looks to push him into touch but van der Merwe dives into the air and keeps his feet in the air when he puts the ball down. Very good finish. The touchline conversion is missed by Kinghorn

12:43 PM

11 mins: Scotland 0 Italy 3

Penalty advantage for Scotland inside the Italy 22 but the home side don't take advantage of it. Turner takes it quickly for Scotland, it is then shipped out wide and van der Merwe leaps for the corner. Is it a try or in touch?

12:40 PM

9 mins: Scotland 0 Italy 3

Scotland, for the first time really with ball in hand, now have a penalty of their own as Italy take out the scrum-half. They turn down a chance at three points and kick instead for the corner

12:38 PM

7 mins: Scotland 0 Italy 3

Allan this time takes advantage of the penalty kick and gives Italy a deserved early lead

12:37 PM

6 mins: Scotland 0 Italy 0

Italy get the rolling maul going and earn another penalty advantage, which they fail to utilise. Italy will kick for goal despite how well the rolling maul looked

12:35 PM

4 mins: Scotland 0 Italy 0

Another penalty for the away side as Schoeman fails to roll away. Italy kick for the corner

12:34 PM

4 mins: Scotland 0 Italy 0

Allan's penalty kick slides to the left-hand side and an opportunity wasted for the away side to get the first points of the game

12:33 PM

2 mins: Scotland 0 Italy 0

Penalty for the Italians as London Irish's Fischetti wins a turnover penalty inside Scotland's half. Allan will go for goal

12:32 PM

1 min: Scotland 0 Italy 0

A kicking battle ensues in the early stages with a big Kinghorn kick taking play up towards the Italian 22

12:30 PM


We are underway at Murrayfield

12:29 PM

Reminder of the teams

12:28 PM


The fantastic, rousing Italian national anthem has rung out around Murrayfield followed by the home side's anthem. Kick-off is just moments away

12:27 PM

Both sets of fans ready for action

12:26 PM

Townsend wants 'best ever' Scotland performance

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend speaking to BBC:

"It's all in the performance today. It's our last game of the season, of the Six Nations, and we've put a lot of work into the Championship to get an 80 min performance, to get our best ever performance, and that's what the goal is today.

"We're very wary. They were close to beating Ireland and France. They moved the ball from everywhere, they're a real challenge for opposition defences. They've nothing to lose. At this stage last year, they went to Cardiff, played a great game and won that game. The goal for us is make sure we impose our game on Italy and don't give them any chances."

12:25 PM

Pressure on Scotland today

Former Scotland captain John Barclay on BBC:

"Losing today would be a disaster. There's been so much good feeling around the stadium and the team. Scotland played the two weaker sides first.

"The last two games have been disappointing, but we said in week one, if Scotland can finish the best of the rest, in third, that would represent success going into a World Cup."

12:22 PM

Scotland getting ready for action

12:21 PM

Atmosphere building at Murrayfield

12:20 PM


A quick reminder of how the two sides line up this afternoon:

Scotland: 15-Smith; 14-Steyn, 13-Jones, 12-Tuipulotu, 11- Van der Merwe; 10-Kinghorn, 9-White; 1-Schoeman, 2-Turner, 3-Zander Fagerson, 4-Skinner, 5-Jonny Gray, 6-Ritchie (capt), 7-Watson, 8-Dempsey

Replacements: 16-Ashman, 17-Sutherland, 18-Nel, 19-Cummings, 20-Matt Fagerson, 21-Price, 22-Healy, 23-Redpath

Italy: 15-Allan; 14-Bruno, 13-Brex, 12- Menoncello, 11-Gesi;10-Paolo Garbisi, 9-Fusco; 1-Fischetti, 2-Nicotera, 3-Riccioni, 4-Iachizzi, 5-Ruzza, 6-Negri, 7- Lamaro (capt), 8-Lorenzo Cannone

Replacements: 16-Manfredi, 17-Zani, 18-Ceccarelli, 19-Niccolo Cannone, 20-Pettinelli, 21-Zuliani, 22-Alessandro Garbisi, 23-Morisi

12:16 PM

Not a good recent record for the Italians

12:14 PM

View from both camps

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend:

"Italy have taken on the same teams that we have played and two of those are the best in the world right now. They've run them really close.

"The Ireland game was very close, I think it was 25-21, within four points for a long period. Against France they were seven points down with a five-metre line-out in the 80th minute and had already won a penalty try off a driven maul.

"Those two games could have gone in their favour and nobody would have said they didn't deserve it.

"They've beaten Australia in November, they beat Wales away last year. They are growing and the way they play puts teams under pressure because they attack from everywhere."

Italy head coach Kieran Crowley:

"We were disappointed with the performance against Wales - we addressed that during the week and are looking forward to Saturday's match against a very good team in Scotland."

12:11 PM

Away side arrive at Murrayfield

12:10 PM

Home team news

12:02 PM

Scotland vs Italy preview

Scotland take on Italy at Murrayfield this afternoon in the final round of this year’s Guinness Six Nations. Scotland sit in 3rd place in the table with the visitors sitting bottom, winless in their first four games.

A win against Italy would mean Scotland win three matches in the same tournament in five of the last seven editions of the Six Nations. They have done so just once in the previous 17 campaigns.

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend has made four changes for today's contest, with fly-half Finn Russell, full-back Stuart Hogg and second row Richie Gray all ruled out by injury. It means that Ollie Smith makes his Six Nations debut at 15, while Blair Kinghorn comes in for Russell at 10.

Gray is replaced by Sam Skinner, who starts in this year's tournament for the first time, and Hamish Watson is preferred to Matt Fagerson in the back row, with captain Jamie Ritchie switching flanks. Former Ireland Under-20 international and Munster fly-half Ben Healy could make his Scotland debut from the bench.

Italy make four changes of their own, with 21-year-old Zebre winger Simone Gesi making his debut in place of Edoardo Padovani. Scrum-half Alessandro Fusco comes in for Stephen Varney to make his first start of this year's championship, second row Edoardo Iachizzi makes a first Test start in place of Niccolo Cannone and prop Marco Riccioni is preferred to Simone Ferrari.

Replacement prop scrum-half Alessandro Garbisi could make his first Six Nations appearance alongside brother and starting fly-half Paolo should he come on.

Italy's tally of seven Six Nations wins against Scotland is their best against any side. They have beaten the other four nations combined six times in total since 2000. Scotland have triumphed in the last seven Six Nations fixtures versus Italy - their longest winning streak against any nation in the championship. Italy have won just one of their last 41 Six Nations games since beating Scotland in 2015, losing the other 40.