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Result: Scotland thrash Italy to claim first Six Nations win

Result: Scotland thrash Italy to claim first Six Nations win
© Reuters
Hooker Dave Cherry and wing Duhan Van Der Merwe each scored a brace of tries.

Scotland made it third time lucky at Murrayfield as they cruised to their first home win of the Guinness Six Nations with a record-breaking 52-10 thrashing of Italy.

Skipper Stuart Hogg admitted ahead of the game he was feeling nervous about standing-in for the injured Finn Russell at fly-half.

But the full-back had nothing to worry about as his side ran in eight tries against an Azzurri outfit who will be glad to see the end of a miserable campaign.

Hooker Dave Cherry scored twice on his first start, while scrum-half Scott Steele also marked his full debut with a try.

There was a brace too for Duhan Van Der Merwe while Darcy Graham, Huw Jones and Sam Johnson contributed to the Scots’ biggest ever Six Nations victory.

Following agonising back-to-back defeats against Wales and Ireland, this was the soother Gregor Townsend’s team needed and will raise spirits ahead of next week’s delayed curtain-closer with France in Paris.

Italy had shipped an average of 46 points in their four previous games – and the haemorrhaging continued as Townsend’s team became the quickest team so far this year to run up a bonus point, taking just 28 minutes to dot down four tries.

Yet it was the visitors who started the brighter, scoring inside six minutes as Luca Bigi squeezed over to score in the corner as Scotland’s maul defence crumbled.

But it would not last as Italy’s own inability to resist a line-out drive saw Scotland hit back within four minutes, with Cherry powering over. Hogg’s conversion skidded wide but it did not matter as they moved in front on 14 minutes.

Matt Fagerson and then Jones provided two huge carries to drive Italy scrambling back to their own 22.

Duhan Van Der Merwe
Duhan Van Der Merwe touched down Scotland’s second try (Jane Barlow/PA)

Scotland maintained their patience before exploding to the left as Hogg, Johnson and Hamish Watson combined to release the juggernaut that is Van Der Merwe in space out wide.

The big wing motored over the line, leaving a string of bodies in his wake, before skipping towards the posts to hand Hogg an easier shot at the extras.

Paolo Garbisi fired a penalty over but it was futile resistance.

Federico Mori saw yellow for a reckless shoulder hit on Johnson and Scotland were quick to exploit their temporary man advantage when Sean Maitland charged to within sight of the line.

Jones took over but was immediately pounced upon by Mattia Bellini before he could score.

But there was no salvation for the Azzurri as Jones popped a pass off the ground for Graham to jog over.

Italy looked stunned. Garbisi tried to take some pressure off his side by pinning the Scots down in their own 22 with a high kick – but the pace at which Townsend’s team moved the ball was simply too quick for Franco Smith’s men to cope with.

Van Der Merwe chewed up ground down the left before passing to Hogg. His immediate offload to Jones caught Italy by surprise, with the Glasgow centre charging through a huge gap for another oh-so easy try and the bonus point before the half-hour mark had even been reached.

The half-time whistle brought merciful respite for Italy – but it was only brief, as Cherry scored his second with a carbon copy of his first, peeling off the maul before diving for the line from close range.

Italy’s troubles worsened again as Sebastian Negri was given a stint in the bin for a deliberate knock-on, with Steele – so impressive with his rapid tempo around the breakdown – this time capitalising as he followed Johnson’s quick dart towards the line to crawl over for try number six on 52 minutes.

By the time Negri was back on, Mori had already headed past him as he was also sin-binned for a tip tackle on Hogg.

And the tries continued to flood in. Johnson got a richly deserved score with 15 minutes left as Scotland took a quick tap penalty, while Van Der Merwe added his second in the 71st minute, powering through the Italian ranks like a bowling ball to score from halfway after Ali Price’s initial break.

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Today's Olympic highlights header

Saturday's key events


TRIATHLON
· After silvers in both the men's and women's events, Team GB will be fancied to get on the podium again in the mixed relay (11.30pm-1am)

SWIMMING
· Touted as Michael Phelps's successor, Caeleb Dressel already has two gold medals from these Games and he will be going for a third in the men's 50m butterfly final (2.30am)
· It is Katie Ledecky vs. Ariarne Titmus III in the women's 800m freestyle final, with Ledecky entering as firm favourite (2.46am)
· Great Britain will be heavily fancied to add another gold medal to their swimming haul, having produced by far the fastest qualifying time for the mixed 4x100m medley relay final (3.43am)

ATHLETICS
· Dina Asher-Smith is one of three British women in the 100m semi-finals (3.01am-3.20am), and will hope to challenge for a medal in what is likely to be a star-studded final (1.50pm)
· The inaugural Olympic 4x400m mixed relay event concludes with Great Britain one of the eight finalists going for gold (1.35pm)

RUGBY SEVENS
· Team GB's dreams of an unlikely gold are still alive in the women's event as they face France in their semi-final (3.30am). The winners will face either New Zealand or Fiji in the gold medal match later in the day (10am)

SAILING
· Gold medals are up for grabs in the windsurfer - RS:X finals. Emma Wilson participates for Team GB in the women's final (6.33am), while Tom Squires is in action in the men's (7.33am)

TENNIS
· Following his shock semi-final defeat, ending his hopes of a Golden Slam in 2021, Novak Djokovic battles for bronze against Pablo Carreno Busta (7am)
· The women's singles event reaches its conclusion with the gold medal match between Belinda Bencic and Marketa Vondrousova

> Today's schedule in full
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