Italy v ScotlandItaly (3) 13Tries: Campagnaro, Esposito Pen: AllanScotland (15) 34Tries: Price, Visser, Ford 2, Hoyland Cons: Taylor, Russell, Horne Pen: Russell
Scotland marked Gregor Townsend’s first match in charge with a five-try victory over Italy in Singapore.
Ali Price and Tim Visser crossed as the Scots built up a 15-3 half-time lead.
Ross Ford went over twice early in the second period before Damien Hoyland dived in for his first Scotland try, emulating Price’s feat.
Michele Campagnaro and Angelo Esposito claimed second-half tries for Italy, who also had Dean Budd and Abraham Steyn sin-binned.
Townsend’s side, which featured a late change as Ryan Wilson started at open-side flanker instead of the injured John Hardie, continue their tour against Australia in Sydney next Saturday.
Fiji in Suva are Scotland’s final opponents in a summer series that allows new coach Townsend to assess his pool of players.
Scotland were in control of the game for large parts but it took the former Glasgow coach’s new side until just before half-time to kick on and build a game-winning lead.
Finn Russell and Tommaso Allan had exchanged penalties in a match that was rendered brutally hard by the much-mentioned humidity in Singapore.
There was never any doubt Scotland would seize the game by the throat sooner or later, with captain John Barclay doing more than most to make that happen.
Barclay was excellent and had some important men around him, with Ben Toolis enjoying a pleasing first start and Hoyland making a promising reappearance after a year in the wilderness.
Scotland had all the ball and whatever creativity existed in the Test for the first half hour belonged to them.
It did not amount to points but it drained Italy – shorn of Sergio Parisse and the class he brings – of energy and hope.
Conor O’Shea’s team were one-dimensional and well beaten, with both of their tries coming when the game was a dead duck.
Italy’s discipline was poor at the start and it got steadily worse. They conceded nine penalties in the opening half, the end of which saw Scotland hit them with two blows that had them reeling.
First, Allan Dell spilled the ball backwards in the tackle only for it to land in Price’s hands and the scrum-half whipped around the outside to score.
On the stroke of the break, Visser stretched the lead after fine work in the air by Hoyland and a delicious dink over the top by Russell.
The Harlequins wing ran on to get Scotland’s second try and in Russell’s brief absence with a blood injury, the versatile Duncan Taylor banged over the conversion.
Scotland’s lead at the break was 12 points and a couple of minutes into the new half it was 19 when Ford mauled his way over from close range.
Russell converted and then Italy were made to pay for further wretched discipline when debutant Budd, the second row, was binned.
In a relative blink, Ford scored again, with Russell’s ambition at the heart of it. The fly-half linked nicely with the hooker and Ford had no trouble eluding a jaded Italian defence.
Having started his evening with two tries in 108 caps across 13 years, he had now doubled his total in six minutes.
With the game now won at 27-3, Townsend emptied his bench bit by bit, saving some of his key men for Sydney.
Italy got a consolation score when one of those Scottish replacements, Magnus Bradbury, spilled the ball into the hands of the Italy back-row Maxime Mbanda, who offloaded to Campagnaro to score the try.
Their respite was brief. They lost another man to the bin in 71 minutes, replacement Steyn walking for dumping Henry Pyrgos illegally, and that made them increasingly vulnerable.
Within two minutes, Taylor sent Hoyland clear up the right wing and he went over for a first Test try, which Peter Horne converted.
The last act belonged to Italy and a try from their right-wing Esposito – a disappointing end to the game for Townsend and his team on an otherwise decent start to his reign.
Italy: E Padovani, A Esposito, M Campagnaro, T Boni, L Sarto, T Allan, E Gori (capt); A Lovotti, L Bigi, S Ferrari, M Fuser, D Budd, F Minto, M Mbanda, R Barbieri.
Replacements: O Gega, F Zani, P Ceccarelli, A Van Schalkwyk, A Steyn, M Violi, C Canna, T Benvenuti.
Scotland: D Taylor, D Hoyland, M Scott, A Dunbar, T Visser, F Russell, A Price; A Dell, R Ford, WP Nel, T Swinson, B Toolis, J Barclay (capt), R Wilson, J Strauss.
Replacements: F Brown, G Reid, Z Fagerson, R Harley, M Bradbury, H Pyrgos, P Horne.