image

Hong Kong Rugby Union

Emotional Vern Cotter given perfect send-off as Scotland beat Italy in Six Nations

The New Zealander presides over his final match as coach at Murrayfield after three years in charge in a 29-0 victory

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 18 March, 2017, 11:27pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 18 March, 2017, 11:29pm

Scotland gave departing coach Vern Cotter a successful send-off by beating Italy 29-0 in the final round of the Six Nations on Saturday.

The Azzurri were left with five straight losses for the third time in the past four years.

Finn Russell, Matt Scott, Tim Visser and Tommy Seymour – all members of the Scots’ improved back division – scored the tries in a bonus-point victory at Murrayfield that keeps them in contention for a second-place finish.

Cotter – a tough New Zealander who rarely shows public emotion – was in tears after the match as Scotland fans cheered for their coach, who didn’t have his contract renewed after three years in the role and is joining French team Montpellier for the start of next season.

“He’s a good man and has made a fantastic contribution to Scottish rugby,” Scotland captain John Barclay said. “He’s built a fantastic culture in the team.”

Under Cotter, the Scots have finally added some cutting edge to their backline, helping them win three matches for the first time in 11 years. Both losses were away, to France and last week to England, a 61-21 defeat that cost Scotland a shot at the title.

“We had to set the record straight after last week,” Barclay said.

Italy were already sure of the wooden spoon for the 12th time in 17 seasons since joining the expanded Six Nations in 2000, but failed to score a point against Scotland for the first time.

Scotland kept the Italians from scoring after weathering 10 minutes of sustained pressure from the visitors when Barclay was in the sin-bin from the 49th. In that period, Italy botched an overlap on the right wing when Angelo Esposito was held up before Edoardo Padovani knocked on.

On a bleak day for Italy, fly-half Carlo Canna missed all three of his shots at goal in the first half.

Scotland, on the contrary, were much more ruthless, despite losing centre Huw Jones – a scorer of two tries against England – to a leg injury early on.

Russell received scrum half Ali Price’s pass and squeezed between two defenders to scramble over in the left corner. The second try arrived just before half-time when Price’s chip to the right wing was tapped down by Hogg, allowing Scott to ground.

Barclay was sin-binned after he infringed at an Italian maul, but Italy couldn’t capitalise.

Scotland sealed maximum points in the final 18 minutes when Visser grounded after Italy centre Tommaso Benvenuti failed to collect Hogg’s chip through, and Seymour was sent through unchallenged down the right wing.