Six Nations: Scotland secure scrappy bonus-point victory over Italy

Scotland edged to a bonus-point victory over Italy in their Six Nations encounter. Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

Centre Chris Harris scored a brace of tries as Scotland edged to a 33-22 bonus-point victory over Italy in their Six Nations encounter at the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday, inflicting a 36th successive defeat in the competition on their hosts.

Centre Sam Johnson, wing Darcy Graham and fullback Stuart Hogg also crossed for tries as Scotland came out on top in a game that was more of a street fight than an arm wrestle, with both teams playing some loose rugby compounded by errors.

Italy had managed only a single try in the Six Nations coming into the game, but got three in Rome as scrum-half Callum Braley and debutant Ange Capuozzo (two) crossed to score, the latter's opening effort giving the home side their first second-half points in this year's competition.

Scotland move into fourth in the table with 10 points from their four games, while Italy remain marooned at the foot of the standings, having yet to break their duck and with a game to come in Wales next weekend.

"We came here to get five points and that's what we achieved," Scotland scrum-half Ali Price said. "But there is still so much growth though; we were made to work very hard for the scores we got and a lot of those came off turnover.

"There is still a bit to look at in terms of our attack and creating opportunities for ourselves. We dug it out."

Italy had scored only 16 points in their three games before this one, so their haul against Scotland is another sign of their slow, but visible, improvement under coach Kieran Crowley.

It is hard to argue with a five-try win, though the visitors will be unhappy with some aspects of their play, particularly how they gave up possession with unforced errors and the fact that they spent under three minutes in their opponents' 22 in the entire match, while Italy spent almost eight in theirs.

It took Scotland almost a quarter of the game to string together some phases and enter the Italy 22, with their attack launched by the unlikely sight of hooker George Turner bursting down the right wing. The move was finished in the opposite corner by Johnson.

One quickly became two as Scotland went coast to coast from their own 22 after an intercept from Price, who fed wing Kyle Steyn. The latter's kick towards the posts was collected unopposed by Harris to canter home.

Italy were buoyed up by their bright opening half-hour and got their reward when they found some space outside, wing Pierre Bruno showing excellent feet to stay in the field as he released the ball inside for Braley to score his side's second try of this season's Six Nations.

Harris scored another as the visitors led 19-10 at half time, and they claimed their bonus-point try eight minutes into the second period when Finn Russell passed inside to Graham, who zig-zagged his way across the tryline.

Hogg cantered in for the visitors' fifth try with 20 minutes remaining, but the last two scores in the game went to the lively Capuozzo as Italy finished the stronger.

"It is about not switching off," Price said. "We had scoreboard pressure on them and we talk about trying to be relentless in that situation and not giving teams a sniff and keep going for the full 80 [minutes]. That is the challenge."