Guinness Man of the Match Hamish Watson believes Scotland’s campaign is back on track after recording their first victory of the 2020 Guinness Six Nations with a 17-0 win over Italy in Rome.
Watson impressed throughout the encounter at the Stadio Olimpico, and was part of an impressive defensive effort that left the hosts failing to get on the scoreboard on their own turf.
Scotland’s back row was able to dominate the game, earning seven breakdown steals in all to shut down the Azzurri.
It was a piece of magic from Stuart Hogg that opened the scoring for the visitors, before Chris Harris and Adam Hastings touched down in the second period to seal the victory for Gregor Townsend’s side.
And Watson believes the win in Rome can be the springboard they need as they head into the last two matches of the Championship, but was still left to lament missed chances to make the winning margin even greater.
“We came here knowing how hard it was going to be,” the flanker said. “The last few times we have come here in 2016 and 2018 have been really tough games, so we knew how hard it was going to be. It was a must win for us today to get our tournament back on track. “It’s a bit frustrating, we keep getting into the finish zone, or making good line breaks but keep coughing up the ball and that’s something we really need to work on.
“As we’ve seen in the previous two games if we could’ve executed those opportunities who knows where we could be in the league table, it’s definitely something we need to work on.
“We just need to look after the ball and have patience instead of always trying the miracle offload or not supplying enough players to the breakdown.”
Hogg produced the one moment of quality in a rigid first-half performance from both sides, as the full-back’s fantastic dummy left the Italian defence for dead, before using his pace to get over in the corner.
That was the way it stayed until the break, before Scotland burst out the blocks in the second half, with Harris the man to capitalise on a concerted spell of pressure on the hosts’ try line.
Adam Hastings rounded off the scoring late on in Rome, as the fly-half zipped down the blindside from a ruck on halfway to stroll to the line without a defender in sight.
Scotland were just as dominant on the other side of the ball, with Watson playing a pivotal role whenever the hosts looked to attack the visitors’ try line.
The 28-year-old was influential around the breakdown, forcing two turnovers in the game and continuously slowed the ball down to halt any Italian momentum, in the type of determined performance we have come to expect from the Edinburgh man.
Watson also registered 15 tackles as he set the standard for a monumental effort all over the park from his side, and was proud of Scotland’s battling to the end to complete the shutout.
“That’s a massive achievement, that’s something we’ve been working really hard on,” Watson said.
“Our defence has been great so far this tournament, we’ve only conceded two tries, one in each of the first two games, and today to keep Italy to zero at home is a really great achievement by us.”