Injury forces Skinner off early
By Mark Stevens
Both Scotland and Exeter Chiefs will have to wait to assess the severity of the injury that forced Sam Skinner off early during his Guinness Six Nations Championship debut against Italy at BT Murrayfield.
The 23-year-old had only been on the field for 14 minutes when he was forced to limp out of the action with what appeared an ankle injury.
Having impressed many during the Autumn Series, the former University of Exeter student was hoping to continue that form into the Six Nations. His first appearance, though, was short and sweet and Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend will be hoping that the Chiefs star is not sidelined for long.
In his absence, Scotland kicked off their 2019 campaign on a winning note as Blair Kinghorn scored a hat-trick in their 33-20 victory.
The hosts trailed to a Tommaso Allan penalty, but wing Kinghorn finished off two imaginative first-half moves as the hosts asserted their authority. Stuart Hogg - who will be moving to the Chiefs next season - then touched down a Finn Russell grubber, before Kinghorn jinked through for his sixth try in eight Tests.
Newcastle's Chris Harris crossed before Guglielmo Palazzani, Edoardo Padovani and Angelo Esposito scored late consolation tries.
Head coach Townsend declared himself "very pleased" by a first hour that saw the Scots score five tries and lead 33-3. However, he admitted the closing stages were "disappointing", with three Italy tries following Simon Berghan's yellow card.
"We have obviously got to improve from today, but I was pleased with the way we managed the game," Townsend said. "Finn Russell and Stuart Hogg were excellent with their kicking game and their decision-making on the ball. That is going to be important next week.
"Ireland will test you wherever they see an area of opportunity. They will run it from their own 22 if we have not got our spacing right, they will test us at the set-piece and are an excellent defensive team."