Scotland v Italy: Scotland player ratings

Blair Kinghorn, Duhan van der Merwe and Jack Dempsey are home team's top performers

Blair Kinghorn scored a hat-trick for Scotland against Italy.Image: ©Craig Watson -
Blair Kinghorn scored a hat-trick for Scotland against Italy.Image: ©Craig Watson -

15. Ollie Smith – 7

Big boots to fill – and he made a fair fist of it. Confident and competent, without setting the heather ablaze. [Tommaso Allan 7] 


14. Kyle Steyn – 7

Difficult to find fault with his game – comfortable, reliable and, at times, threatening – but he is no Darcy Graham. [Pierre Bruno 6]

13. Huw Jones – 7

The game did not go his way, but he did well finding the space for Duhan van der Merwe’s opening try and he defended his channel steadfastly.  [Juan Ignacio Brex 7]

12. Sione Tuipulotu – 7

A quiet game, but the bits and pieces were still there such as the dummy run to set up Blair Kinghorn’s first try, the clever grubber kicks and a couple of big hits. [Luca Morisi 7]

11. Duhan van der Merwe – 8

Needless penalty in third minute for not releasing, which fortunately Tommaso Allan failed to convert. Brilliant finish for his try and broke out strongly to set up Blair Kinghorn’s last minute try. Very strong on his feet and worked hard off the ball to get into the game. Never really tested in defence. [Simone Gesi 7]

Gregor Townsend begins talks with Scottish Rugby about his future

Scotland v Italy report: late Blair Kinghorn try secures bonus-point win for hosts

Gregor Townsend confirms contact with Mosese Tuipulotu

10. Blair Kinghorn – 8

Hat-trick hero, but the jury is still out on his role as Finn Russell’s deputy. Superb athlete, he grabbed his three tries ruthlessly, and always threatened with ball in hand – but Russell’s deft passing skills were sorely missed. Kicked three out of four, but his goal kicking d\id not feel totally convincing. Fluffed his first two kicks to the corner and was posted missing for Tommaso Allan’s try. [Paolo Garbisi 8]

9. Ben White – 7

An effective link. Kicked well both into the box and to clear his lines. [Alessandro Fusco 6]

1. Pierre Schoeman – 8

Well on top in the scrum and busy about the park with 13 carries totalling 52 metres. Showed impressively soft hands in his first receiver role, but there was a bad penalty at the first breakdown. [Danilo Fishcetti 7]

2. George Turner – 6

Energetic around the park, as is his wont, and strong in both scrum and maul, but two really poor throws at critical line-outs. [Giacomo Nicotera 7]

3. Zander Fagerson – 7

Dominant in the scrum and active in the loose, but forfeited a couple of careless breakdown penalties. [Marco  Riccioni 5]

4. Sam Skinner – 7

Workmanlike, with a solid shift grafting away below the radar. Won three out of three line-out balls thrown to him and stole one Italian ball. [Edoardo Iachizzi 7]

5. Jonny Gray – 6

Incredibly, according to the match statistics, he did not have one single ball thrown to him all afternoon,  affording him the opportunity to contribute elsewhere, with 12 carries totalling 47 metres and 14 tackles. Solid without being authoritative [Federico Ruzza 7]

6.  Jamie Ritchie – 7

Never really imposed himself on the game, try though he might. Useful option at front of line-out. Constant nagging at referee maybe suggests that captaincy is a distraction he would be better without. [Sebastion Negri 7]

7. Hamish Watson – 6

Ring rusty. [Michele Lamaro 8]

8. Jack Dempsey – 8

Needed a big game to justify his selection ahead of Matt Fagerson, and he produced it. The sponsor’s man-of-the match. Strong, aggressive and savvy – 13 carries for 80 metres – 23 tackles –  but three penalties conceded. [Lorenzo Cannone 7] 


16. Ewan Ashman – 5 (replaced George Turner in 50th minute)

Missed his man with his first throw. [Marco Manfredi 6]

17. Rory Sutherland –  7 (replaced Pierre Schoeman in 60th minute)

Brought substance and experience to the scrum when the game was up for grabs. [Frederico Zani 5]

18. WP Nel –  7 (replaced Zander Fagerson in 71st minute)

Gave what it promised on the tin,  a secure scrum when the chips were down.  [Pietro Ceccarelli 5]

19. Scott Cummings – 5 (replaced Jonny Gray in 60th minute)

Got stuck in. [Nicole Cannone  5]

[Niccolo Cannone 5]

20. Matt Fagerson – 5 (replaced Hamish Watson in 51st minute)

Brought plenty energy onto the park, but gave away two crazy penalties. [Giovanni Pettinelli 5]

21. Ali Price – 7  (replaced Ben White in 60th minute)

Big impact. Interception when hard pressed on own line was a game changer. A couple of telling clearing kicks, and read the situation perfectly to initiate the last try. [Manuel Zullani 5]

22. Ben Healy – 5  (replaced Ollie Smith in 67th minute)

Looked comfortable enough. [Alessandro Garbisi 6]

23. Cameron Redpath – 5 (replaced Sione Tuipulotu in 68th minutes)

Solid later cameo which featured one great steal. [Marco Zanon 5]

Gregor Townsend begins talks with Scottish Rugby about his future


  1. Hogg should fight for his place from the bench now. BK to start. Same for Mish, Darge should keep him from starting and Crosbie could keep him from the bench. Should see in the summer tests. I agree that the captaincy is perhaps a distraction for JR. But who do you give it to before the WC? In the Autumn tests FR was 4th choice 10 but now we can’t find 1 immediate replacement? Should be AH when available again and Ross Thompson needs test time. I agree that the summer tests will through up more questions than answers meaning we will arrive at the World Cup unsettled.

    • Agree. Kinghorn is not an international No 10. But with ball in hand he does pose a threat. His poor passing wasted potential opportunities. His place kicking unreliable. Healy needs opportunities. Hastings if fit the only alternative as back up to Russell. Captaincy an issue since Ritchie is not playing anywhere near his best.

    • Schoeman as skipper?? Maybe Dempsey? Needs to be a first pick player and apart from Finn who has enough on his shoulders with Ten duties, not sure there are many other contenders. If the France and Ireland (and even Italy) showed, we don’t really have enough leaders out there. Compare and contrast with the likes of Ireland who are packed with battle hardened problem solvers who go looking for work when things are going against them.

  2. Strange game. BK is a wonderful athlete with great balance and skills- at full back!
    Who will replace FR? Remember we have Hastings. Healy deserves a break. Massive FR boots to fill when the time comes. Many players seemed anxious and under par on the day. Time is up for Gray. Ponderous and predictable. Is Ritchie being distracted by captaincy? Watson is far from his best. Summer pre- world cup internationals may create more questions than answers

  3. I think that yesterday has finally confirmed that Kinghorn should have a permanent place in the side and in fact has the potential to be a world class internationalist.

    At 15, not at 10.

    • Absolutely agree Bob, but curiously – and as always – there is the vexed question of where does he play? Full back is most sensible and I would have liked to have seen him there yesterday, striking from deep. Edinburgh will have an embarrassment of riches next year, with Boffelli, Darcy and Duhan occupying the back three and no doubt Healey establishing himself as a bespoke 10. Ideally you want all five on the pitch if you’re playing your best XV – so how do you manage it? None of them is really a bench player.

      • Edinburgh’s responsibility should be first and foremost to nurture players for Scotland.

        It’s shocking that they’ve spent the last 4 years trying to shoehorn Kinghorn into a position that he’s never going to excel in. Townsend should have been insisting that Kinghorn be played as a full back, and that a younger Scottish stand off be given the chance to develop.

        It’s remarkably short-sighted.

  4. Surprised that nobody has opined that BK is more effective at full back than at stand off. He has all the attributes of a good full back (perhaps in the Gavin Hastings mould); safe under the high ball and decent touch kicker and high ball in defence and lethal strike runner in attack. I totally agree with nemel and septic+9 that the backs are a completely different animal with Finn Russell’s speed of thought and instinct in attack.

  5. For me our worst performance of the 6 nations. I’ll watch it again on tv for a closer view. I thought Kinghorn had a good individual game but I thought it was telling that the Tuipoluto/Jones partnership was not as prominent as in games when Finn was the “ring master” I thought the forwards defended well but our line out continues to be woeful and the rolling maul was largely ineffective. Disappointed.

    • Agreed. Huwpolotou is a great partnership; but BL couldn’t make ‘em fire.
      Having said that, he is a great full back. He is also faster, bigger and more willing to pass than Hogg.

    • Agreed. Huwpolotou is a great partnership; but BL couldn’t make ‘em fire.
      Having said that, he is a great full back. He is also faster, bigger and more willing to pass than Hogg.

    • Perhaps the line woes are explained in the stats. Gray didn’t have one ball thrown to him, this was a surprise to me. And yet another game where Kinghorn proved beyond doubt that he’s a back three player and NEVER an international stand-off. He would have scored all three tries had he been in the back three. We are still giving away STUPID penalties. This has to be sorted before the World Cup. Its inevitable that some penalties will be conceded by the team, some givenvin error by a referee, but still too many unnecessary ones.

  6. Forwards scores look a bit on the high side except for Dempsey and Schoeman who have both been consistently good. In backs White was no 7 and I thought Kingorn might have just scraped a 9 for his hat trick. They don’t come along too often with the last Scottish 6 Nations hat trick scorer that wasn’t called Blair Kinghorn – Ivan Tukalo in 1989

  7. Steyn’s contribution has been really important this tournament and questions the sense in him being so overlooked after his 4-try match vs Tonga as understudy for Graham and VdM. Not the first time his intervention has saved a try and has been solid under the high ball and made some good breaks.
    Our pack did look tired and out of sorts yesterday, second rows in particular so scores perhaps a bit high. Dempsey deserving of his 8 thought. Still think we need to get the balance right in the back row and ideally get Dempsey and Fagerson working well as a combo.
    BK – did some great stuff in terms of running lines but distribution not at international 10 standard, not a surprise and 8 probably a fair reflection. Midfield did more of a supporting role given the lack of Finn creativity and definitely a big success this 6N.

    • The pack look out of sorts mainly because Ritchie and Watson simply aren’t firing on all cylinders.
      Mish in particular is lucky to have a squad place, never mind get into the first XV.
      Jamie Ritchie seems to be suffering from ‘Hogg-ism’…..that is, becoming captain diminishes your return as a player.

      We have plenty of choice in the back row (if fit), with Crosbie, Darge and Fagerson all in the mix for places. Townsend seems to have the same blind spot for Watson as he has for Price, in that regardless of form, he always picks them.

  8. Bit harsh on Jones he was our most creative player with the half backs providing poor service to the back line. Forwards scores extremely generous to say the least.

  9. Odd to mention Duhan’s holding on penalty, which is mostly down to the rucking players… Or lack of them.

  10. Personally I’ve got no problem with Smith not setting the heather alight. He was reliable all day and didn’t try to play what wasn’t on. Some days that’s the best you can do – I thought it was a mature display.

    Steyn’s try saving tackle that forced Italy to knock on over the line right at the end surely deserves a mention too. Proper match-turning moment.

    • good description of Kinghorn’s performance, but also attack simply did not function with him at 10 and we had to run different patterns because he cannot run the ones which have been so successful.
      I know he scored 3 tries but and 8 is way too high

      • I think we have to accept that he can’t do Finn things but very few players anywhere can. So Blair has to bring his strengths to the game which are more of a physical and running threat. He did that pretty well as the three tries testify.
        I absolutely agree that the overall attack looked disjointed and the midfield looked much less threatening than when Finn is there running the show but it’s only fair to rate Blair on his performance given his own strengths and weaknesses rather than score him on what Finn might have brought had he not been injured.

    • @Gordon Muir

      yes we have to rate Kinghorn on who he is not who he isn’t, I agree.
      But I didn’t mention Russell, you did. I mentioned play patterns, successful ones. They involve more than one player and none depend on Russell magic – that is a bonus. Kinghorn could not run those patterns, even simple ones, hence the other backs were neutered.
      On his strengths, finishing like a back row is fine. But I’d rather he could pass fast and flat, preferably and unlike yesterday to someone I’d prefer if he wasn’t so random with his kicks to touch – I mean so scared of kicking the ball dead he left us with a lineout 20m out instead of 5-10m (from about 25m out!). I’d prefer if he had any game management sense. I’d prefer if he had any tactical kicking nous. I’d prefer if he was even a 70% goal kicker. He is none of those – but he can finish like a back row, ideal 10 candidtae

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