AAP Rugby

Pressure eases off Scotland with Italy win

By AAP Newswire

Scotland coach Gregor Townsend believes the pressure of needing to beat Italy took a toll on his side as they scrapped their way to a 17-0 Six Nations win in Rome on Saturday.

Townsend's side travelled to Italy after narrow defeats to Ireland and England, while the omission of key playmaker Finn Russell for breaching team protocol had cast a shadow over the start of their campaign.

The Scots ran in three tries through Stuart Hogg, Chris Harris and Adam Hastings and kept the hosts scoreless.

However, Townsend accepted that their performance could have been better, while insisting that the victory will allow Scotland to approach their final two games against France and Wales with clear minds.

"Maybe we didn't play as fluently today, partly because of the way Italy were playing, but also maybe because we knew how important a game this was and how important a result was for us to now kick on in the championship," he told BBC Scotland.

"I'd now like to think we go into our last two games with any pressure on our shoulders lifted.

"The performance wasn't perfect by any means but the defence was almost perfect when you have a zero against you. The effort was huge and it was a tough game to play in."

Scotland captain Hogg lit up the game with a superb solo try, running more than half the length of the pitch to put his side in front in the first half, and putting the memory of costly errors against Ireland and England behind him.

"It was world class," Townsend said.

"He almost had another with a few similar line breaks in the second half. He's shown really good energy and good leadership through a tough time."

Scotland welcome France to Murrayfield in two weeks while Italy's next challenge is away to Ireland.