Two seven-point defeats at the hands of England and Ireland sees Scotland in an all too familiar situation towards the rear end of the table and battling it out for the wooden spoon with their hosts for this weekend Italy, though their defensive stability has been an improvement this year.
The Azzurri have been rather less resolute in their defeats, however, with Wales putting as many as 42 points on them without conceding, while France being victorious by 35-22.
The only saving grace for Italy is that both their fixtures have come on the road thus far and we all know how big the home advantage can be in this competition.
However, they haven’t won in Rome in this tournament for six years now as their last such victory came against the Irish in 2013, losing each of their last 15.
In fact, at all venues in the Six Nations the hosts have now lost 31 games on the bounce, only covering the eight-point handicap twice.
Errors Have Cost The Scots
The Scots have been struggling in attack without their orchestrator Finn Russell as they’re yet to get over the whitewash this year.
However, they’ve conceded the joint fewest tries so far this tournament, while Italy have leaked a table topping 10 times from their two outings.
Gregor Townsend’s men will still feel hard done by for not coming away with more from their tussle with Andy Farrell’s Ireland side on the opening weekend, with captain Stuart Hogg dropping the ball over the line and they’ll be out to get their first win in this vital bottom of the table clash.
Townsend has named three changes to his starting line-up, most notable replacing centre Huw Jones with 29-year-old Chris Harris after his positive appearances for Gloucester this season.
Scotland -8 Handicap, Kinghorn To Score Anytime
Scotland have won all the last seven head-to-heads with the Azzurri dating back to August 2015, as five of the last six saw them win by more than eight points which they’d need to do again in order to cover the handicap.
That looks even more likely considering the likes of Stuart Hogg and Blair Kinghorn champing at the bit to add to their tryscoring tally against their hosts.
Indeed, the former has scored in each of his last two against them, whilst the latter crossed over for a hat-trick in his only outing against them to date 12 months ago.
In fact, the 23-year-old has six tries from the seven international starts he’s been handed on the wing alone and he looks great value to strike again.
ODDS CORRECT AS OF 16:30 20/2/2020, HOWEVER ARE SUBJECT TO FLUCTUATIONS
ROUND TWO HIGHLIGHTS
ITALY V SCOTLAND TEAMS
Italy: 15 Jayden Hayward, 14 Mattia Bellini, 13 Luca Morisi, 12 Carlo Canna, 11 Matteo Minozzi, 10 Tommaso Allan, 9 Callum Braley, 8 Abraham Steyn, 7 Sebastian Negri, 6 Jake Polledri, 5 Niccolò Cannone, 4 Alessandro Zanni, 3 Giosuè Zilocchi, 2 Luca Bigi (c), 1 Andrea Lovotti
Replacements: 16 Federico Zani, 17 Danilo Fischetti, 18 Marco Riccioni, 19 Marco Lazzaroni, 20 Dean Budd, 21 Giovanni Licata, 22 Guglielmo Palazzani, 23 Giulio Bisegni
Scotland: 15 Stuart Hogg (c), 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Sam Johnson, 11 Blair Kinghorn, 10 Adam Hastings, 9 Ali Price, 8 Magnus Bradbury, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Jamie Ritchie, 5 Scott Cummings, 4 Ben Toolis, 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 Stuart McInally, 1 Rory Sutherland
Replacements: 16 Fraser Brown, 17 Allan Dell, 18 Willem Nel, 19 Grant Gilchrist, 20 Matt Fagerson, 21 George Horne, 22 Rory Hutchinson, 23 Byron McGuigan
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