Cotter pleased with victory, but work to do for Scots

Vern Cotter emerges from the tunnel at Stadio Olimpico in Turin
Scotland boss Vern Cotter is pleased his side have secured their first win of 2015

Scotland head coach Vern Cotter was pleased to see his charges notch their first win of 2015 against Italy, but said there was room for improvement.

Henry Pyrgos's late try ensured the Scots edged a dull encounter in Turin.

The two meet again at Murrayfield on Saturday as Rugby World Cup preparations intensify.

"Life is easier when you are winning games, but we know we'll have to lift our performance for next week," Cotter said after the 16-12 victory.

"It's only our second game as we build up for a World Cup but we showed strength of character which played a part in this win and we withstood a lot of Italian attacks.

"But as soon as we stopped giving away needless penalties we were much better.

"It was a hard game and anything but simple but we made it hard for ourselves. But then we found a way to win and that's important. Italy are a tough team and are very physical."

Slick attacking play was at a premium as both sides leaked penalties, and fell foul of handling errors, especially in contact.

New cap, New Zealand-born John Hardie impressed with an industrious defensive display, while fellow debutants Stuart McInally and Rory Hughes enjoyed solid starts to their Test careers.

Scotland flanker John Hardie on debut against Italy
John Hardie enjoyed a fine start to his international career with Scotland

Edinburgh duo WP Nel and Damien Hoyland also made their international bows from the bench, with tighthead prop Nel's introduction shoring up the Scottish scrummage.

"I'm happy with a few things and I thought the guys put in reasonable performance but not a perfect one by any means," added Cotter. "We had five new caps playing so that's another positive for us.

"It was a mixed bag of positives and negatives and we have a lot of thinking to do and plenty to work on.

"We will look at the game; there was information given to us out there regarding team performances and we need to dissect things.

"Other players will get opportunities next week when Italy come to Murrayfield and we will look to step things up again and keep improving."

Alasdair Strokosch took over the captaincy after Grant Gilchrist was ruled out with a stomach bug hours before kick-off, and admitted his delight after he led his side to a win.

He said: "I was very proud of the team's character to come away with a victory. I congratulated the players and told them I was proud. Italy are a strong side and it was just great to come through it with a victory."

Italy head coach Jacques Brunel says his side will be ready for next Saturday's rematch at Murrayfield.

"Our main aim was to understand where we are as a squad regarding our strength and conditioning," he said.

"It's disappointing to lose a match where we had so much possession, about 70%, so that's tough to take.

"Now we need to fix some things before we play Scotland in Edinburgh and I'm confident we can do that."

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