Guinness Six Nations 2023 Rugby Coverage

Guinness Six Nations Preview - Scotland To Finish On A High Against Italy

Guinness Six Nations Preview - Scotland To Finish On A High Against Italy

Scotland host Italy in round five of the 2023 Guinness Six Nations at BT Murrayfield in Edinburgh. Finn Russell and Stuart Hogg are both out injured.

Mar 16, 2023 by Philip Bendon
Guinness Six Nations Preview - Scotland To Finish On A High Against Italy

Kieran Crowley’s Italy side travel to Edinburgh this weekend in search of a first victory to close out their 2023 Guinness Six Nations campaign. 

Having been bitterly disappointed in their performance in round four, Italy will know that a winless Six Nations will bring with it the calls of same old Italy. 

Yet this could not be further from the truth given their propensity to, at times, produce sublime rugby moments. 

Standing in their way are a Scotland team who, too, will leave this season’s Championship feeling bitterly disappointed about what could’ve been. 

Having opened the Championship with back-to-back victories for the first time in their history. Gregor Townsend’s side flattered to deceive when it counted as they slipped to back-to-back defeats to France and Ireland. 

The Irish defeat will string them the most, having played a terrific opening half before letting slip a golden chance against a team who firmly have their number. 

Thus, the stage is set for two sides who enter the final round with the mindset that a loss is simply unthinkable. 

Team News

Townsend has made four changes to his starting XV from the side that did battle with Ireland. 

Key amongst the changes are the injured enforced removals of star players Finn Russell and Stuart Hogg. 

Replacing the potent playmaking duo are the exciting young talents of Blair Kinghorn and Ollie Smith, respectively. 

In the forwards, secondrow Sam Skinner replaces the injured Richie Gray whilst Hamish Watson returns on the openside in place of Matt Fagerson, who drops to the bench. 

Crowley has matched Townsend in making four changes to his side, with two debutants set to hit the international stage in winger Simone Gesi and replacement hooker Marco Manfredi. 

Elsewhere Alessandro Fusco gets his Championship start at scrumhalf while Edoardo Iachizii and Marco Riccioni form a new look secondrow partnership. 

Key Match-Up

With Russell out, it will be up to Kinghorn to manage the Scottish attack around the park. Not too dissimilar from Russell in how he likes to play the game, Kinghorn will be an ever-present running threat to the Azzurri this weekend. 

Having looked more assured at fullback, Kinghorn’s battle with an out-and-out flyhalf in Italy’s Paolo Garbisi will make for fascinating viewing. 

The Montpellier playmaker is among the many young Italian stars making their mark on the European and international game. His return from injury in round three sparked a substantial uptick in the Azzurri’s attacking performance due mainly to his willingness to attack the line. 

Once again, taking to the pitch without key man Ange Capuozzo, the pressure will be on Garbisi to be at his magical best to upset the Scots.


On paper, this clash should only go one way. Despite their back-to-back losses, this Scottish team are further down the line than their Italian counterparts. 

Yet, with their two key playmakers in the backline, the onus will fall on Townsend’s coaching staff to formulate a plan that utilises the strengths of their impressive centres and wingers. 

Just how these other players step up to the game plan throws some doubt into this one. Even still, an Italian victory would shock just about everyone.

As mentioned above, the Italians have made strides and have, at times, looked sublime. However, they still lack that cutting edge to close out games, and whilst they will challenge this Scottish side, it feels as though they are still a season away in their development. 

With nothing on the line in terms of silverware, this game has the potential to be a fun watch between sides who like to give the ball some air. 

In front of their home fans, Scotland will take one by a margin of 12 points. 


Scotland: 15. Ollie Smith, 14. Kyle Steyn, 13. Huw Jones, 12. Sione Tuipulotu, 11. Duhan van der Merwe, 10. Blair Kinghorn, 9. Ben White, 1. Pierre Schoeman, 2. George Turner, 3. Zander Fagerson, 4. Sam Skinner, 5. Jonny Gray, 6. Jamie Ritchie, 7. Hamish Watson, 8. Jack Dempsey 

Replacements: 16. Ewan Ashman, 17. Rory Sutherland, 18. WP Nel, 19. Scott Cummings, 20. Matt Fagerson, 21. Ali Price, 22. Ben Healy, 23. Cameron Redpath 

Italy: 15. Tommaso Allan, 14. Pierre Bruno, 13. Juan Ignacio Brex, 12. Tommaso Menoncello, 11. Simone Gesi, 10. Paolo Garbisi, 9. Alessandro Fusco, 1. Danilo Fischetti, 2. Giacomo Nicotera, 3. Marco Riccioni, 4. Edoardo Iachizzi, 5. Federico Ruzza, 6. Sebastian Negri, 7, Michele Lamaro, 8. Lorenzo Cannone 

Replacements: 16. Marco Manfredi, 17. Federico Zani, 18. Pietro Ceccarelli, 19. Niccolo Cannone, 20. Giovanni Pettinelli, 21. Manuel Zuliani, 22. Alessandro Garbisi, 23. Luca Morisi

Written by Philip Bendon