King for a day: Blair is the hero as Scotland start campaign with win

Kettle Collective

Scotland 33 Italy 20


Blair Kinghorn bagged Scotland’s first ever Guinness Six Nations try hat-trick as his side defeated Italy 33-20 at BT Murrayfield on Saturday.

The 22-year-old has been in fine form for Edinburgh Rugby at full-back, but he looks equally at home on the wing and now has five tries in eight caps after this man of the match performance.

Scotland had the game all but wrapped up around the hour mark, but a late salvo from the Italians – when they scored three tries – will give the hosts food for thought ahead of a tougher test against Ireland next week.

The home side got off to a good start and good interplay from captain Greig Laidlaw and full-back Stuart Hogg got them into the Italy ‘22’ within two minutes.

A couple of phases later the Scots thought they had scored the opening try through second-row Grant Gilchrist, but the grounding was not clear and – after checking with the TMO – referee Luke Pearce did not award it.

In the fifth minute Kinghorn showed what he can do when he cut off his wing and burst through the Italy defence, but good work eventually by the visitors, held the Scots out.

And it was Italy who took the lead in the 10th minute, former Scotland under-20 cap Tommaso Allan converting a penalty to make it 3-0.

Scotland bounced back in style though, a lovely cross field kick in the 12th minute from stand-off Finn Russell finding Kinghorn in space and the youngster finished well.

Laidlaw missed the conversion and at 5-3 Scotland back-row Sam Skinner was forced off to be replaced by Josh Strauss.

An Italian mistake in their own ‘22’ then got Scotland on the front foot again.

The knock on gave Scotland a scrum and from it they scored, the ball being shipped wide after some good midfield interplay by Russell and debutant Sam Johnson with Hogg putting Kinghorn in for his second.

Laidlaw converted at it was 12-3.

At that point it looked as if the Scots may take things by the scruff of the neck and go and put the game out of sight before half-time.

That didn’t happen though, the rest of the first 40 minutes being tough for either team to score and it remained 12-3 at the interval.

The next score was going to be crucial in this one and it was Scotland who got it in the 48th minute.

Winger Tommy Seymour had a good break through the middle and then, when the ball was recycled, a deft kick through from Russell was chased by the onrushing Hogg who just got his hand – and downward pressure – to it before the defender.

Laidlaw converted and seven minutes later Scotland had secured their bonus point try, Kinghorn running a great line to go in for his hat-trick.

It was the first trio of tries for an individual for Scotland in the Championship since Italy joined in 2000, the last in the Five Nations being from Iwan Tukalo in 1989.

What a moment for the young man and with Laidlaw’s conversion it was 26-3 before the hour mark.

With the win in the bag, Scotland made a few changes and one of the new boys – centre Chris Harris – was next on the scoresheet with the fifth try in the 62nd minute. Russell converted for 33-3.

Jake Kerr, the 22-year-old Leicester Tigers hooker, then came on for his full debut.

With 10 minutes to Scotland replacement tighthead prop Simon Berghan was sin-binned and Italy took advantage, scrum-half Palazzani going over.

That one was converted by replacement stand-off Ian McKinley and when fellow replacement Edoardo Padovani went over for a well-worked try after 75 minutes it was suddenly 33-15.

In between those two tries, Newcastle Falcons’ back-row Gary Graham had come on for a Scotland, but Italy were not finished yet.

Their third try came through winger Angelo Esposito to make it 33-20 now in a ‘blink and you miss it’ last 10 minutes.

That was the way things finished and although they will be frustrated by the ending, in general Scotland will be happy to have scored five tries and got the Six Nations off to a winning start.

Three talking points

Job done: Everyone knows that, on their day, Italy can be a tough nut to crack and while Scotland perhaps did not hit the heights they played well in spells and this victory will give them confidence ahead of Ireland next week which is shaping up to be a cracker.

How good can Blair Kinghorn become? He is still just 22, but he has five tries in his eight Scotland appearances to date and has given head coach Gregor Townsend a lot of food for thought even when Sean Maitland returns to fitness. Has a great nature and will get better.

Jamie Ritchie’s quality: He is just 22 and this was his first Six Nations game, but he carried on his form that he has been showing with Edinburgh lately and is a key part of the back-row now for his country especially with Sam Skinner possibly adding to the injury list.


Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend:  “We started really well with two minutes of ball-in-play time and almost scored

“Italy had their moments in the first half and I felt we needed more. We stepped up the pace at the start of the second half and got ahead on the scoreboard.

“The last 15 minutes was disappointing. Obviously the yellow card had a bearing on that and there are a few areas to work on, but the first 60 minutes were very pleasing.”

“[Next week] Ireland will test you wherever they sense an area of opportunity, they will run it from their own ‘22’ if we have not got our spacing right, they will test us at the set-piece and are an excellent defensive team as well.

“We have got to improve [against Ireland on February 9], but I was pleased with the way we managed the game. Finn Russell and Stuart Hogg were excellent with their kicking game and their decision-making on the ball. That is going to be important next week.”



Scotland: Stuart Hogg; Tommy Seymour, Huw Jones, Sam Johnson, Blair Kinghorn; Finn Russell, Greig Laidlaw (C); Allan Dell, Stuart McInally, WP Nel, Ben Toolis, Grant Gilchrist, Sam Skinner, Jamie Ritchie, Ryan Wilson. Subs: Jake Kerr, Jamie Bhati, Simon Berghan, Gary Graham, Josh Strauss, Ali Price, Adam Hastings, Chris Harris.

Italy: Jayden Hayward; Angelo Esposito, Luca Morisi, Tommaso Castello, Michele Campagnaro; Tommaso Allan, Guglielmo Palazzani; Andrea Lovotti, Leonardo Ghiraldini, Simone Ferrari, David Sisi, Dean Budd, Sebastian Negri, Abraham Steyn, Sergio Parisse (C). Subs: Luca Bigi, Cherif Traore, Tiziano Pasquali, Federico Ruzza, Jimmy Tuivaiti, Ian McKinley, Edoardo Padovani.


Scotland: Tries: Kinghorn (12, 21, 55), Hogg (48), Harris (62). Cons: Laidlaw (21, 48, 55), Russell (62).

Italy: Tries: Palazzani (71), Padovani (75), Esposito (79). Con: McKinley (71). Pen: Allan (10).


Luke Pearce.

Man of the match:

Blair Kinghorn (Scotland).


67, 144.

Thanks to David Gibson/FOTOSPORT for the main image

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