Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Scotland Team to Face Italy

Pete Horne - pic © Al Ross

Glasgow Warriors stand-off Peter Horne has been given the chance to bring his Glasgow form to the big team, after being named at stand-off for this Saturday’s RBS 6 Nations match against Italy at BT Murrayfield.

Horne, who helped Glasgow to go clear atop the Guinness PRO12 last weekend after back-to-back wins over Zebre and Ospreys – man of the match in the former and impressive in the hard-won latter – is a direct replacement for suspended club-mate Finn Russell. He faced competition from Edinburgh playmaker Greig Tonks who did not play at the weekend, a sign that some of us took for an indication he would start.

Instead Tonks remains on the bench, where he is joined by young Edinburgh players Ben Toolis and Hamish Watson who may well see some game time. Sam Hidalgo-Clyne also returns to the bench following post-concussion protocols and edging out Chris Cusiter, and props Ryan Grant and Geoff Cross replace Gordon Reid (knee) and Jon Welsh (hand), who were injured against Wales.

Horne is one of four changes to the starting XV, with second-row Tim Swinson the only other to be enforced. He fills in for Richie Gray (arm injury) while up front Euan Murray (the Wales game was on a Sunday) will be hoping to continue his impressive form against an Italian pack shorn of Martin Castrogiovanni (excuse: dog ate his nose).

Welcome news for attack (and catching high ball) fans is that Tommy Seymour slots back on the wing in place of Tim Visser, having recovered from the hip knock that took him out early in the French match.

Head Coach Vern Cotter said: “Italy are a team that will be targeting this game, so we must be prepared to roll our sleeves up and work very hard to get a result. They are a big, physical team – bigger than us – so we will have to be technically strong and well connected as a group to withstand what will be a strong assault on our defensive line.”

Scotland team to play Italy at BT Murrayfield Stadium in the RBS 6 Nations, this Saturday 28 February (kick-off 2.30pm)

15 Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors); 29 caps, 9 tries, 1 pen, 48 points
14 Tommy Seymour (Glasgow Warriors); 14 caps, 6 tries, 30 points
13 Mark Bennett (Glasgow Warriors); 4 caps
12 Alex Dunbar (Glasgow Warriors); 13 caps, 4 tries, 20 points
11 Sean Lamont (Glasgow Warriors); 92 caps, 12 tries, 60 points
10 Peter Horne (Glasgow Warriors); 6 caps
9 Greig Laidlaw CAPTAIN (Gloucester); 36 caps, 3 tries, 38 cons, 74 pens, 313 points

1 Alasdair Dickinson (Edinburgh Rugby); 41 caps, 2 tries, 10 points
2 Ross Ford (Edinburgh Rugby); 82 caps, 2 tries, 10 points
3 Euan Murray (Glasgow Warriors); 63 caps, 2 tries, 10 points
4 Tim Swinson (Glasgow Warriors); 9 caps
5 Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors); 10 caps, 1 try, 5 points
6 Rob Harley (Glasgow Warriors); 12 caps, 1 try, 5 points
7 Blair Cowan (London Irish); 8 caps, 1 try, 5 points
8 Johnnie Beattie (Castres); 36 caps, 3 tries, 15 points

16 Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors); 5 caps
17 Ryan Grant (Glasgow Warriors); 19 caps
18 Geoff Cross (London Irish); 37 caps, 2 tries, 10 points
19 Ben Toolis (Edinburgh Rugby); uncapped
20 Hamish Watson (Edinburgh Rugby); uncapped
21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne (Edinburgh Rugby); 2 caps
22 Greig Tonks (Edinburgh Rugby); 1 cap
23 Matt Scott (Edinburgh Rugby); 22 caps, 3 tries, 15 points

Referee: George Clancy (IRFU)

27 Responses

  1. I honestly thought Johnnie Beattie had more caps than that. There you go.

    Anyway, really happy with the team. I know there’s been a lot of calls for Laidlaw to be dropped but hopefully the buzz generated by SHC’s cameo against Wales will give him the kick up the backside he may need. If not, I hope Vern has the you know whats to sub him relatively early.

    My only surprise is the inclusion of Lamont over Visser/Fife. I like the big lad a lot and he’s an honest, hard working player but you know what you’re going to get from him. Saying that, perhaps he’s in there to provide leadership. The squad as a whole is pretty young and inexperienced so I can only figure he’s going to provide a bit of guidance to the young lads.

    Anyway, massively excited for this match, I’m tipping Scotland to to win by 10. Hope to god I’m right!

    Are many of you going to the game? Watching it in the pub? Boycotting it because Italy shouldn’t be in the competition…?

    1. I like Lamont and I would argue he’s streets ahead of both Visser and Fife, both in terms of technique and sheer determination. He’s been on fire for Glasgow. Visser needs to take a long hard look at himself. He’s so frustrating. He could genuinely be world class if only he could sort out his attitude. He needs to work far harder defensively and under the high ball. Foe me Fife isn’t good enough, and personally should be behind Lee Jones who is getting his career back on track at Glasgow. I also think Fife’s show of petulance in Paris would have counted against him in the eyes of BVC.

      Also really looking forward to the game. As I’ve said previously I think this game is a better barometer of how far we’ve come. A win is a win but preferably a convincing one ahead of the trip to twickenham.

      1. Yeah I’m not knocking Lamont at all, I think he’s been a great servant to this country and has actually been our most consistent back, I’d say. My point is more that we know what he has to offer, whether that’s in the center or on the wing. I’d have him in this squad, and the WC squad for sure, because you know what you’re getting and offer flexibility.

        My issue about Visser is for years, we’ve cried out for a try scorer. We have one, and his strike rate proves that, and yet we (myself included) critise him for his failings. Now, whether he’s good enough to do it against the big boys, I’m not sure (although he did grab a brace against NZ a couple of years back), but against a team such as Italy then yeah, he might grab one or two.

        I’m not part of the Visser fan club or anything (although I do live in the Netherlands now!) but if Italy play as they have done, as in great intensity up to 50/60 minutes before tiring, then I would have thought he’d be an option to bring on from the bench.

        Anyway, this is sound overly negative. I’m really happy with the squad and the way it’s lined up!

  2. I think common sense has prevailed here. Horne has been playing well, the fact he’ll be lining up alongside club team mates combined with Tonks lack of game time make this the right decision for me. Hamiltons injury also gives Swinson a chance to shine, a chance which is deserved. I’m going to be extremely interested to see how Toolis and Watson perform should they get on. Also hoping SHC gets decent game time.

  3. Good, classy team. Not far off my ideal 1st XV (Gilchrist, Ashe, Russell and Maitland then you’re there).

    Hopefully will give Horne a chance to stake a claim for the RWC squad. As long as he stays calm and keeps it simple – crisp, quick distribution out to Dunbar – he’ll do just fine. Keep the heid, as they say. And let Laidlaw, Hogg and Bennett do the kicking honours.

    Just to reiterate what I said in a different thread – Horne being left out of the initial squad and Tonks being considered the only back-up 10 is telling. I see that Horne has familiarity with Dunbar & Bennett (and Seymour, Lamont and Hogg for that matter), but the fact that Tonks wasn’t an automatic shoe-in for the 10 jersey this weekend might tell us something about the coaches confidence in him. Maybe not though – still want to give the lad a chance to show what he can do.

    Pleased for Swinson. Would say (if all fit) that Hamilton is likely 4th choice lock for the RWC. Hope Swinson can take the berth in time.

    I will admit I’m surprised by Beattie (but to be fair, Ashe and Denton aren’t match fit). Last-chance saloon I think for him – would love to the see the lad back at his best on Saturday though. Also looking forward to see what Watson can do in Scotland colours.

    Also, good strong message to Visser (and others). If you don’t play well enough to start, you don’t play at all. At present, I’d take Lamont over him anyway.

    Looking forward to the Italy game. It will be a real test of how far we’ve actually come under BVC. Don’t wish to underestimate the Italians, but I’d like a comfortable, composed win. If – like last year – we win by a last-minute drop goal, followed by a victory lap of the stadium as if we’d won the grandslam – I won’t be all that happy!

    1. Also – looking forward to getting a proper look at Glasgow’s new lad Simone Favaro. See how he does against his new team mates!

    2. Read a stat recently which stated that Beattie made only 3 carries against Wales and made a total of 5 metres. Not good enough for an international 8. I’m a fan and on his day he’s class, but up against Parisse he’s really going to have to step it up several notches. That said I’d still have him ahead of can’t pass, won’t pass Denton. However based on current form it has to be Ashe when fully fit for me, or Strauss when eligible.

    3. The mesage to Visser and others about “if you don’t play well enough syou don’t start”, doesn’t seem to apply to Laidlaw.
      About time it did.

      Beattie is a good no 8 and all round footballer who made the mistake of joining Castres at a very bad time. It hasn’t done him or Gray any favours.Let’s see how he matches with Parisse.

  4. Mixed feeling about the squad but I think that’s still the taste of those sour grapes at Russle getting left out cause of the ridiculous “Red Card” ban

    Like that Horne is in, but am worried if he will be able to keep his cool as an international 10 or not. Guess with Laidlaw to take set kicks it might ease the pressure of him a bit.

    Again not too happy with Beattie, he played better against the Welsh than against the French (thought he was woeful), but I still feel like he is lacking the physicality to impose himself as a ball carrier at this level.

    Lastly I also agree with McChin as to Lamont being included over Visser. I do get that Visser has been slow to start but it seems like Lamont has hit his international (and club) celling for his form. Solid player, but that’s about it. With Visser I feel that he is still settling and will get better. If he can capture his last few years pro 12 form then we will be laughing.
    Although you could argue that he was dropped to send him a message and I would still prefer Maitland/Seymore as my first choices.

    Still against an Italian team with two new caps, I feel (not sure if this is too cocky) that we will win by quite a decent margin. Say a final score of 10-28. Come on Scotland!!

  5. Given this is not far from our best team (IMO) and that Italy have a couple of new caps and some players missing, I will be a bit gutted to be wandering back towards Haymarket with a win of less than 15 points!

    What I really want to see is Horne performing well, and some clinical finshing!

    I’m predicting a bonus point win (haha!) of 35-16.

  6. A good strong side, I excpect the scrum to stand solid with Murray back against an Italy front row lacking Castro and carrying Ageuro, who was penalised most scrums when he started against England. I expect a big showing from Swinson, he’ll be eager to take this chance in the absence of Hamilton and Gray. The backs should rip these new Italian boys to shreds, even without Russell at the fore. My one concern is Beattie, I really think Cotter should’ve bitten the bullet and started Denton, Beattie just hasn’t got it any more. Despite that Scotland should comprehensively pound italy, I’ll expect a winning margin of at least 20.

    1. It’ll be Niko maybe, with Ali Price at SH? Off topic, but if Glasgow can sneak anything from that game it’ll be a huge bonus!

      1. Or the new lad – Lyle? He’s listed as FH and had a decent outing at IC. I hope to get something from Munster but the squad is really stretched thin!

  7. Really pleased with this team. I know that Laidlaw has his doubters but he is dependable when kicking, a great scrum half on his day. And if all goes wrong, SHC has a chance to shine and at the same time give Laidlaw a scare which would undoubtedly spur him on in future eg Twickenham. I also think that if we can win against Italy convincingly then we have a real shot at England

  8. …. Just to add I’m not doubting England’s talent but their ability to take their eye of the ball when they don’t respect a team (don’t think they will be expecting Scotland to stand a chance) AND the huge improvement in the Scotland squad and key players returning from injury………might just cause a huge upset. But we’ll see.

    1. Also England been slow starters in the last 2 games and caught on the hop due to loose defence with Italy scoring the first try. If our backs get front-foot ball we can sink the Twickenham bogey and no better year than RWC…with a QF looming on the horizon back at HQ( sorry Sassenach speak).

  9. Shame it’s Clancy as referee. He doesn’t do us any favours at the breakdown and has a record of dodgy decisions against us. It could be worse. It could be Nigel Owen.

    1. To be fair to Clancy, he insisted Jackson went to the TMO due to obstruction in the lead up to Wales disallowed try.

      It’s pretty bad when Clancy is forced to intervene because you’re making a pig’s ear of reffing a game.

  10. Sorry for jumping in on your Forum(I’m Welsh..sorry about last week lads!!) Can you confirm who will be your kicker tomorrow please? Trying to sort my fantasy team out!! Cheers in advance.

    1. It’ll be Laidlaw mate, although Hogg may take anything 35 meters plus.

      I’d pick Haimona as your kicker though, he’s been brilliant thus far. In no way is this opinion shaped by our result against you…haha! Joking!

      I’ve gone with Halfpenny, but have used George Ford before too…

  11. Cheers mate. I’ll go for Laidlaw!!! Good luck tomorrow, oh, and please beat the English!!!!!!

  12. No real surprises, glad cotter has the cahoolies just to play the best fly half available. I was hoping not to be so nervous before the Italy game this year but it’s much of the same story. If they win this well then win the last two games tournament success! If they win this and win one more game, ok but only just… If they lose today I’ll have to bury my head in the sand until September and peep through my fingers until we get knocked out. Like the players, sick of losing with style. Time to grind out some wins, starting today!

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion