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Chris Harris scores two tries as Scotland dispatch Italy in Rome

By PA
Chris Harris /PA

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Chris Harris scored two first-half tries as Scotland overcame a sticky start to record a convincing bonus-point 33-22 victory over Italy in their Guinness Six Nations match in Rome.

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Gregor Townsend’s side struggled early on but once they sparked into life they were too strong for their hosts, who were consigned to the wooden spoon once again.

Sam Johnson, Darcy Graham and captain Stuart Hogg got the other tries on a pleasant spring day at Stadio Olimpico as the Scots recovered from back-to-back defeats against Wales and France to claim the inaugural Cuttitta Cup, named in honour of ex-Italy captain and Scotland coach Massimo Cuttitta.

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Italy went in to the match without a Six Nations victory since winning away to Scotland in 2015 and it looked in the early stages like they might finally be equipped to end their seven-year drought.

The hosts enjoyed the majority of territory and possession in the opening quarter of an hour and were unfortunate not to have more than just a fourth-minute penalty from Paolo Garbisi to show for their efforts.

Gregor Townsend’s side suddenly sparked into life in the 17th minute, however, as they edged themselves in front with a brilliant try.

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George Turner started the move on the right before Ali Price, Darcy Graham and Finn Russell – with an outstanding offload – all played their part in shifting the ball across to the left for Johnson to touch down. Russell sent his conversion attempt just wide.

Five minutes later, Russell appeared to have put his side in trouble with a loose pass deep inside his own half but Price – on his 50th appearance – made a superb interception inside his own 22 and surged forward before tossing it to his left to Kyle Steyn.

The Glasgow wing, who was being closed down by a cluster of Italians, improvised by kicking the ball over the top for Harris who darted through unchecked to slam down behind the posts. Russell converted.

Italy got themselves back into the game on the half hour when Callum Braney had the easy task of forcing the ball down over the line after Pierre Bruno did superbly to keep the ball in play and flip a pass inside while being tackled by Hogg wide on the right. Garbisi was successful with the conversion.

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Scotland regained command three minutes before the break when Price claimed the ball from the back of the scrum and it was helped on by Russell and Hogg to Harris who waltzed in behind the Italians for his second try of the match. Russell converted.

The visitors stretched their lead eight minutes into the second half when another lovely pass from Russell paved the way for Graham to ghost in and touch down to secure the bonus point. Russell again converted.

Scotland captain Hogg helped himself to a straightforward touchdown in the 61st minute after great work by Price to lay it on a plate for him.

Two tries from debutant replacement Ange Capuozzo in the closing 14 minutes made the scoreline more respectable for Italy but the Scots had already done the damage as they set themselves up nicely for their campaign-concluding trip to Ireland next weekend.

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