Scotland vs. Italy: Winners and Losers from International Match
Scotland demolished Italy with a 48-7 thumping to send them into their final World Cup warm-up match full of confidence.
Having gone winless through 2015 until back-to-back fixtures with their Six Nations rivals, Vern Cotter’s side have now beaten the Azzurri twice in seven days.
It was a sobering defeat for the Italians, who will not approach a group containing France and Ireland with much optimism.
Let’s have a look at the winners and losers.
Winner: John Barclay
Having told the media before this game he thought his time in a Scottish jersey may never come again, per the Daily Record, Flanker John Barclay came back with a bang against Italy, scoring a try and having a barnstormer of a game.
BBC Sport's Jamie Lyell suggested the Llanelli openside had “staked a major claim for World Cup selection” with the performance, and former Scotland international Craig Chalmers was also impressed, tweeting:
@Scotlandteam Great try by John Barclay. Really making a point this afternoon. Natural 7 with great skills & rugby brain.— Craig Chalmers (@Chick_Chalmers) August 29, 2015
Barclay’s exile seems to be at an end, and that could spell bad news for London Irish No. 7 Blair Cowan, who looked like being first-choice in that position following a decent first Six Nations for Scotland.
Loser: Martin Castrogiovanni
The former Leicester man had a tough day at the office, coughing up three penalties in the opening seven minutes, per BBC Sport.
Castro’s woes were a major contributing factor to a horrible day at the office for the Italian scrum, who lost four of their own put-ins.
The set piece has traditionally been a strength for Italy, and props like Castro have earned legendary status in Italian rugby history. But that reputation can't push in a scrum on its own.
Winner: Willem Nel
In contrast to the problems the visiting scrum endured, Willem Nel anchored a strong Scottish front row effort and won praise on Twitter for his efforts:
Three scrum penalties in the opening seven minutes for Scotland. Willem Nel looking tasty.— Jamie Lyall (@JLyall93) August 29, 2015
Afrikaner Nel has only recently qualified through residency to play for Scotland, and this impressive debut could well ensure that he comes up against the country of his birth when Scotland face the Springboks on October 3 in their crunch Pool B encounter.
Loser: Michele Rizzo
Replacement Italian prop Rizzo was “sinbinned for stamping on Gordon Reid as the prop lay at the bottom of a ruck,” according to Stuart Bathgate in the Scottish Herald, which compounded a miserable afternoon’s work for Italy’s beleaguered forward pack.
Italy can ill afford indiscipline of this sort in the World Cup, where they will need to squeeze the more accomplished teams and keep their game tight in a bid to pull off a shock.
That's never easy when you’re playing with 14 men.
Winners: Scotland’s Wide Boys
Wings Sean Lamont and Tim Visser bagged doubles each in this win, which underlines Scotland’s intent to move the ball fast and string out the Italian defenders.
It will be harder to do this against better-rearguard organisations, but Visser and Lamont are both big men who can do damage if given time and space.
Vern Cotter will have been delighted to see a strong forward pack contribute to the scoreboard but also set the platform for his three-quarters to do some damage.