Six Nations build and updates from Murrayfield
Scotland can secure third place in the 2023 Six Nations if they secure a bonus points win over Italy on home soil at Murrayfield this afternoon.
The Scottish Championship got off to a promising start as they continued their recent Calcutta Cup dominance over England before ending their hoodoo against Wales to enter the first week of rest with their Grand Slam ambitions.
Gregor Townsend then saw his troops slip to back-to-back defeats to France and Ireland despite decent performances in both games. A win over Italy would cap a solid six en route to a daunting World Cup group, but a shock defeat would undermine much of the work they’ve done to this point.
The Azzurri showed many positive signs in their first three games of this championship, but a victorious game against a struggling Welsh side saw them underperform and slide to a frustrating defeat, giving them just another chance to save their Six Nations campaign.
Follow live coverage of the first game of Six Nations Super Saturday below:
Scotland vs Italy – Live Six Nations Updates
Scotland host Italy in the first game of the last Six Nations weekend
The game at Murrayfield starts at 12.30 GMT
Scotland are targeting third place with a third Six Nations win while Italy are winless
France vs Wales and Ireland vs England will follow later
Simone Gesi gets a shot on the wing
12:02 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Struggling with Ange Capuozzo Withdrawal Symptoms? May I introduce Simone Gesi, making his international bow for Italy, offering pretty much the same tiny threat as his absent potential future 3-year-old colleague. The Zebre wing is a few inches taller and two years younger than Capuozzo, but is just as explosive and elusive, with a fierce defense increasing its threat.
He still has a little work to do defensively and up in the air but Gesi has split the defense in the United Rugby Championship this year. His inclusion on the wing is another sign of Kieran Crowley’s commitment to playing an exciting brand of rugby. Italy created plenty of chances against Wales but snapped at them a bit but there’s little sign they’ll dampen their attacking momentum at all.
11:58 , Harry Latham-Coyle
The most important decision for Gregor Townsend this week would have been where best to put Blair Kinghorn in his side. Townsend likes the Edinburgh man’s potential as an international fly-half, but the 26-year-old was a little disappointing about position on his chances in the autumn and has been very good off the bench in the back three this season.
Townsend has truly lost three fly-halves with both Adam Hastings and Ross Thompson also currently unavailable, but the Scotland head coach suggested this week he would have had no qualms about starting Ben Healy. Recruiting the Munster-Fly half outside of the Irish system feels like a coup for Scottish rugby as Healy already offers a developed sense of game control. But he hasn’t been in Townsend’s setup long, with limited opportunities to run alongside the rest of an impressive backline, so it’s Kinghorn’s show for now.
“We saw how he trained and how well he developed as a first receiver,” Townsend said of his chosen fly-half. “His session last Wednesday, when Finn wasn’t training at all, was outstanding. I think Blair will like it even more now that we’re playing. He’s focused defense on the outsiders, which will give him opportunities.”
Team News – Italy
11:54 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Italy’s worst showing in the Six Nations prompts some changes for Kieran Crowley, although the New Zealander largely believes the side that disappointed against Wales. Up front, Marco Riccioni and Edoardo Iachizzi are promoted to start at tighthead and second row, respectively.
Behind the scrum is a new scrum in the form of Alessandro Fusco, while the rather exciting Zebre wing Simone Gesi is set to make his debut after an impressive URC season. Another potential debutant is backup hooker Marco Manredi, while Alessandro Garbisi could form a half-back partnership with older brother Paolo for the first time in this Six Nations if he is used off the bench.
Italy XV: Danilo Fischetti, Giacomo Nicotera, Marco Riccioni; Edoardo Iachizzi, Federico Ruzza; Sebastian Negri, Michele Lamaro (Captain), Lorenzo Cannone; Alessandro Fusco, Paolo Garbisi; Simone Gesi, Tommaso Menoncello, Juan Ignacio Brex, Pierre Bruno; Tommaso Alan.
Substitutes: Marco Manfredi, Federico Zani, Pietro Ceccarelli, Niccolo Cannone, Giovanni Pettinelli, Manuel Zuliani; Alessandro Garbisi, Luca Morisi.
Team News – Scotland
11:52 , Harry Latham-Coyle
A long and grueling tournament has taken a significant toll on the Scottish side, who lost three key pillars to this final. Finn Russell, Stuart Hogg and Richie Gray all miss this final encounter.
With Russell and Hogg absent, Blair Kinghorn’s place in the starting XI was secure and Gregor Townsend opted at half-time to install the wide-ranging defender who has impressed off the bench throughout this campaign. That allows Ollie Smith a spot in the back three, while Sam Skinner and Hamish Watson start in the forwards.
Tipperary-born Edinburgh playmaker Ben Healy is ready for a debut off the bench, offering Townsend a more controlling fly-half option while Ewan Ashman, Rory Sutherland and Cameron Redpath return to the substitutes.
Scotland XV: Pierre Schoeman, George Turner, Zander Fagerson; Sam Skinner, Jonny Gray; Jamie Ritchie (Captain), Hamish Watson, Jack Dempsey; Ben White, Blair Kinghorn; Duhan van der Merwe, Sione Tuipulotu, Huw Jones, Kyle Steyn; Olli Smith.
Substitutes: Ewan Ashman, Rory Sutherland, WP Nel, Scott Cummings, Matt Fagerson; Ali Price, Ben Healy, Cameron Redpath.
Six Nations Super Saturday: Scotland vs Italy
11:49 , Harry Latham-Coyle
But we’ll get into all the title permutations in more detail a little later, because business is fast approaching in Edinburgh. After a disappointing performance against Wales, Italy have one last chance at a Six Nations win in 2023, while Scotland are desperate to finish on the up and defend third place.
Kick-off is less than 45 minutes away – let’s take a look at the two teams…
Six Nations Super Saturday: Title Permutations
11:46 , Harry Latham-Coyle
A win by Ireland will of course seal Andy Farrell’s men a championship they deserve, but technically we still have a title fight ahead of us. France’s defeat by England last weekend and Ireland’s failure to pick up a bonus point at Murrayfield leaves last year’s winners four points down the table and ready to pounce on an unlikely Irish slip-up tonight.
Six Nations Super Saturday: The prospect of the Irish Grand Slam should make England green with envy
11:42 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Yes we did, one final day of men’s Six Nations action for 2023 crammed the action into a super Saturday. Italy are in Edinburgh and Wales to get reacquainted with Paris but all eyes are on Dublin where things have been going pretty well for Ireland…
The prospect of Ireland’s dream weekend should make England green with envy
Six Nations Super Saturday
11:30 a.m , Luke Baker
Welcome to that of the independent Live coverage of the 2023 Six Nations Final.
Super Saturday has arrived again and by 7pm we will know if Ireland have won just a fourth Grand Slam – and sealed the first at home – in their history. Only an English team in disarray stands in their way.
Before that, Scotland take on Italy and Wales travel to France when the 2023 Championship concludes.
Stay with us for full live coverage throughout the day