Scotland fans can smile again after long-awaited victory

Scotland players celebrate after their win over Italy.
Scotland players celebrate after their win over Italy.

Long-suffering Scottish supporters gained a measure of respite from a string of Six Nations defeats in Italy on Saturday with a 36-20 victory.

In what has become a less-than-inspired tournament, England now look well set to lift the title, although it is likely Wales still have a big game in them.

Scotland were in fact worthy winners, even if they had momentarily lapses, including stand-off Finn Russell’s silly aberration when he put his hand in a ruck, earning him a ten-minute spell in the sin bin. Not for the first time in his international career his discipline let him down at a key moment.

As it happened, the yellow card incident did not on this occasion have a major impact on the game, but a similar occurrence against either France or Ireland could be fatal in the run-up to the conclusion of the tournament.

Keeping your cool is something top players learn to do, so hopefully the young man will desist in future games.

Scotland could end up with three wins, given that France are struggling to find their usual fluency, while Ireland look vulnerable after their heroics of recent, winning campaigns.

Coach Vern Cotter will certainly hope so, having stuck by the team after the stuttering performances against England and Wales.

But one swallow does not make a summer, and it will not have escaped the eye of the more sceptical that this was a very limited Italian side who missed a number of bread and butter tackles in the early part of the game, enabling Scotland to score their first two morale-sapping tries.

Scotland cannot expect the same generosity from either the French or the Irish, but will have gained confidence from the win. In particular flankers John Barclay and John Hardie had outstanding games, capped with fine tries.

Fellow back rower David Denton, on the other hand, has had a less than convincing tournament, looking nothing like a No 8 who is capable of creating havoc in opposing defences in the style John Beattie or Eric Paxton of beloved memory.

But a win is a win, as a collective sigh of relief ran round clubhouses and pubs throughout the land, perhaps heralding a new era for Scotland. Only time will tell.