Rugby World Cup: Scotland dismantle Italy at Murrayfield

John Barclay scores for Scotland against Italy
John Barclay scored Scotland's second try
Scotland (23) 48
Tries: Lamont 2, Barclay, Visser 2, Bennett Cons: Laidlaw 2, Russell Pens: Laidlaw 4
Italy (7) 7
Try: Campagnaro Con: Allan

Scotland delivered a record win over Italy with an aggressive and assured performance in this warm-up Test.

A brace apiece for Sean Lamont and Tim Visser, and tries for John Barclay - who staked a major claim for World Cup selection - and Mark Bennett ensured the Scots' dominance never wavered.

Michele Campagnaro capitalised on in-goal havoc to score Italy's sole try.

But the visitors' dreadful ball retention and handling meant they seldom built phases and impetus.

Tighthead prop Willem Nel anchored the Scottish scrummage impressively, earning possession and penalties, while opposite number Martin Castrogiovanni infringed three times in the opening seven minutes.

Captain Greig Laidlaw broke the deadlock from the prop's second transgression as the Scots pressed hard from the off.

Sean Lamont scores for Scotland
Sean Lamont scored for Scotland from Finn Russell's measured kick

Soon after, Finn Russell lofted a gorgeous diagonal kick towards the corner flag from 25 metres out, with veteran Lamont beating Guglielmo Palazzani to the ball and touching down on his 96th cap.

Laidlaw converted, and added a second penalty, as Francesco Minto strayed offside.

Barclay, starting his first Test since November 2013, drew yet another Italian infringement as he seized upon Leonardo Sarto as the winger attempted an ambitious breakout from deep.

Laidlaw kicked successfully again for a 16-0 lead.

Past frailties threatened to emerge when a rolling maul - the scourge of Scotland's Six Nations campaign - brought Italy to within a yard of the home line.

Tommaso Allan's chip into the in-goal area caused chaos in the home ranks; Tim Visser should have rescued the ball but instead played volleyball with Laidlaw.

Neither collected and Campagnaro duly pounced under the posts, Allan with an easy conversion.

It proved the only moment of concern for Vern Cotter's side.

Scotland retorted swiftly with a punishing maul of their own, rumbling at speed into the Italian 22, halted only by the cynicism of Minto, who earned himself a yellow card.

The home side kicked for corner again, rallied the forwards anew and, from the resultant drive, Barclay powered between Leonardo Ghiraldini and Angelo Esposito to ground, Laidlaw converting.

Tim Visser scores against Italy for Scotland
Tim Visser scored two tries for Scotland against Italy

Four minutes after the restart, Visser failed to convert a glorious opportunity from a flowing first-phase move, juggling Stuart Hogg's pass and succumbing to the cover defence.

The winger had the easiest of tasks to gather Russell's floated pass and touch down minutes later, though, after Dave Denton had forged ahead up front.

Laidlaw pulled the conversion from wide on the left but kicked penalty number four on 56 minutes.

Lamont cantered in again as he picked off Quintin Geldenhuys' pass and ran in from 25 metres, Laidlaw missing from the tee.

Visser raced in from some 80 yards to ice the Scots' cake as he capitalised on Luke McLean's telegraphed pass, Russell converting, with Bennett scoring a remarkable third interception try from a similar distance with the last play, ensuring with a scoreline of 48-7 a record margin of victory over the Italians.

Scotland: Hogg, Lamont, Bennett, Horne, Visser, Russell, Laidlaw (c), Dickinson, Ford, Nel, Gilchrist, J Gray, Wilson, Barclay, Denton

Replacements: McInally, Reid, Welsh, Harley, Cowan, Pyrgos, Jackson, Scott

Italy: McLean, Esposito, Campagnaro, Morisi, Sarto, Allan, Palazzani; Aguero, Ghiraldini (c), Castrogiovanni, Fuser, Furno, Zanni, Minto, Vunisa

Replacements: Manici, Rizzo, Chistolini, Geldenhuys, Bergamasco, Violi, Canna, Masi

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