Rugby: Scotland's new coach gets off to a winning start

Scotland winger Tim Visser scoring a try against Italy, one of five the Scots made at the National Stadium, along with three conversions and a penalty.
Scotland winger Tim Visser scoring a try against Italy, one of five the Scots made at the National Stadium, along with three conversions and a penalty.PHOTO: RUGBY SINGAPORE/SINGAPORE MAVEN

Belief in their system led Scotland to a comprehensive 34-13 victory over a youthful Italy side in the first international rugby Test match in almost two decades at the National Stadium yesterday.

By executing their game plan of playing quick and decisive rugby, the Scots gave new coach Gregor Townsend his first win in front of a crowd of more than 9,000.

An elated Townsend stressed that belief made the difference, saying: "The players kept believing in what they were doing even though Italy came back into the game."

Double try-scorer Ross Ford added: "We knew that it wouldn't be easy to score, but we kept believing that keeping possession would bring about pressure and eventually that pressure tore into them.

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"We played as quickly as we could, stretched their defence and when chances did occur, we were clinical."

The 15th-ranked Italians were relatively inexperienced in comparison, with an average of just 19 international appearances and an average age of 24 years.

Their coach Conor O'Shea rued his team's lack of discipline, saying: "There's no doubt that there was quite a lot of pressure on us in the first half. We had discipline in the first 35 minutes of the game, but then we lost it and they scored.

"They are fifth in the world for a reason. We'll dust this off us and focus on the next game. We're competitive people. We don't like losing; what's frustrating is we shot ourselves in the foot."

The last time an international Test was held in Singapore was the 1998 Asian Rugby Championship.

Scotland will meet Australia next Saturday in Sydney while Italy will face Fiji on the same day.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 11, 2017, with the headline 'Scotland's new coach gets off to a winning start'. Print Edition | Subscribe