six nations 2019 scotland vs italy

Photo: Six Nations Rugby Official

Six Nations LIVE: Scotland vs Italy – follow scores and updates here!

Italy face a monumental task to take down a Scotland team that appear to be on the rise, on the first weekend of the 2019 Six Nations.

six nations 2019 scotland vs italy

Photo: Six Nations Rugby Official

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Scotland head into the Six Nations with their sights set much higher than avoiding the wooden spoon unlike their opening round opponents Italy.

The Italians arrive at Murrayfield to face a Scotland team that coach Gregor Townsend feels have a realistic shot at winning the entire Six Nations.

Scotland have won 21 of the 29 meetings between the two nations and last suffered defeat to Italy in 2015 at Murrayfield.

Coach Townsend is confident of a positive result but has warned his players to expect a tough challenge.

“Italy have made life tough for Scotland in every Test match we’ve played,” he said.

“I remember that as a player, as a supporter and as a coach – and they were better than us in most of last season’s contest in Rome. They played with pace, were physical and we had to play really, really well in the final quarter to win.

“That performance and also the recent displays of Benetton Treviso are sharp reminders for our players that this will be a difficult fixture.

“Our challenge is to win the physical battle, which is a strength of Italian rugby. We will also have to bring energy and accuracy in order to get our campaign off to a winning start.”

Scotland will hand a Test debut to Australian-born inside centre Sam Johnson, a rising star of the Scottish game who was robbed of a nod last November by a knee injury.

Azzurri hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini is set to make his 100th Test appearance for his country.

Scotland vs Italy: LIVE updates

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The teams:

Scotland: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Sam Johnson, 11 Blair Kinghorn, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Greig Laidlaw, 8 Ryan Wilson, 7 Jamie Ritchie, 6 Sam Skinner, 5 Grant Gilchrist, 4 Ben Toolis, 3 WP Nel, 2 Stuart McInally, 1 Allan Dell
Replacements: 16 Jake Kerr, 17 Jamie Bhatti, 18 Simon Berhan, 19 Gary Graham, 20 Josh Strauss, 21 Ali Price, 22 Adam Hastings, 23 Chris Harris

Italy: 15 Jayden Hayward, 14 Angelo Esposito, 13 Luca Morisi, 12 Tommaso Castello, 11 Michele Campagnaro, 10 Tommaso Allan, 9 Tito Tebaldi, 8 Sergio Parisse (c), 7 Abraham Steyn, 6 Sebastian Negri, 5 Dean Budd, 4 David Sisi, 3 Simone Ferrari, 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 1 Andrea Lovotti
Replacements: 16 Luca Bigi, 17 Cherif Traore’ 18 Tiziano Pasquali, 19 Federico Ruzza, 20 Jimmy Tuivaiti, 21 Guglielmo Palazzani, 22 Ian McKinley, 23 Edoardo Padovani

Date: Saturday, February 2
Venue: Murrayfield
Kick-off: 16:15 SAST
Referee: Luke Pearce (England)
Assistant referees: Mathieu Raynal (France), Shuhei Kubo (Japan)
Television match official: Simon McDowell (Ireland)