Hogg delighted as Scots win in Italy
By Mark Stevens
Captain Stuart Hogg admitted he was ‘chuffed to bits’ after Scotland kicked off their Autumn Nations Cup campaign with a 28-17 victory over Italy at the Stadio Artemio Franchi in Florence.
It was Scotland’s fifth win on the bounce – the first time they had achieved that sequence since 2011 – and their ninth successive triumph against the Azzurri.
Overturning a half-time deficit of four points, Scotland played with greater energy and purpose in the second half and crafted tries for Scott Cummings, Zander Fagerson and George Turner to go alongside a first half score from man of the match Duhan Van Der Merwe.
“We were disappointed when we went in at half time with the way we were performing,” said Hogg, who was joined in the win by club-mates Jonny Gray, Sam Skinner and Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, the latter of whom was featuring for his country for the first time in two years.
“The big thing I said at half time was that nobody should question our work-rate or our physicality in the second half. That was more like us in the second half, so I’m pretty chuffed.
The hosts performed ferociously, particularly in the first half, with Paolo Garbisi's boot and a fine Matteo Minozzi putting them in charge.
For Hogg, though, the victory was all that mattered come the final whistle. He added: “I just asked the boys to believe in themselves, both individually and collectively. Right now, you can see we have smiles on our faces and we’re enjoying our rugby and, ultimately, we’re winning test matches, which is what we are here to do.”
Scotland’s pack, which included Gray and Skinner, lay the foundations for the win, a point echoed by Hogg in his post-match assessment.
“The forwards have been outstanding,” continued Hogg. “Ali [Price] and Dunc [Weir] drove us around the field really well. They got the forwards into good positions and that in turn allowed the forwards to get their game plan into place. You saw second half what happened when we got it right.”
Next up for Scotland is next Sunday’s clash against France at BT Murrayfield (3pm).
“It’ll be another good test for us,” added Hogg. “Right now, we’re chuffed to bits, we’ll enjoy this, then recover and get ready to go again against France.”