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Scotland picks apart Italy in Six Nations victory

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Associated Press
2/9/2013 11:39:18 AM
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EDINBURGH -- An 80-meter interception try by Stuart Hogg capped Scotland's 34-10 win over Italy at Murrayfield in the Six Nations on Saturday, bringing the visitors back to earth after their defeat of France.

The fullback brought the crowd to its feet with one of four tries scored by the effervescent back division of the Scots, who ended a wretched run of four straight losses to revive their campaign.

Centres Matt Scott and Sean Lamont and winger Tim Visser also went over while Greig Laidlaw kicked flawlessly for 14 points as the error-prone Azzurri were blown away, a week after producing one of their greatest displays to beat the pre-tournament favourites.

This match typically decided the wooden spoon, but the Italians' 23-18 victory over France added a new dimension to their trip to Edinburgh, with some pundits saying they could even challenge for a top-three finish for the first time.

However, they were no match for a fired-up Scottish team desperate to make up for its 38-18 loss to England last weekend, with Italy's only try coming from flanker Alessandro Zanni late on.

Tigerish in defence, Scotland brought a clinical edge to its play behind the scrum that has rarely been seen in recent years.

Hogg's interception score in the 48th minute was the game's highlight, when he read Luciano Orquera's inside pass to burst upfield from inside his own 22 and score his second try of the tournament.

Yet interim coach Scott Johnson will be more happy with the creativity that led to Visser's score in the left corner in the 29th, setting Scotland on its way, and then Scott's well-worked try off lineout ball in the 43rd. That made it 20-3 and effectively wrapped up the victory.

"I liked the intent from our boys," Johnson said. "We spoke about the contact area all week and straight from the start we were aggressive and turned over the ball. We had our chances and scored from them."

Scotland turned around at halftime 13-3 ahead, dominating the breakdown and forcing sloppy handling errors from Italy.

Visser added to Laidlaw's two early penalties by taking a fine pass from Ruaridh Jackson, cutting inside Sergio Parisse off his left foot and powering over the line.

Orquera's penalty on the stroke of halftime gave the Italians some hope but they were undone by two Scotland tries in the space of five minutes just after the restart.

New Zealand-born winger Sean Maitland came crashing into the line to pop up a pass for Scott, who raced past covering fullback Andrea Masi. Then Hogg enhanced his growing reputation -- that could even lead to a call-up by the British and Irish Lions this summer -- with his try.

Lamont picked a loose ball up from a ruck to canter over unchallenged in the 68th for his ninth international try as the match threatened to turn into a rout.

Zanni's try five minutes later gave the Italians some consolation but they were well beaten.

"We're not getting carried away," Laidlaw said. "We hope we can build on this in two weeks' time against Ireland."

Stuart Hogg (Photo: Stu Forster/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Stu Forster/Getty Images)
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