Gregor Townsend backs steely Scots to lift themselves for crunch Azzurri fixture

GREGOR TOWNSEND has backed Scotland to bounce back from their Calcutta Cup mauling at the hands of England to beat Italy at Murrayfield on Saturday.

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Glasgow Warriors coach Gregor Townsend was delighted with the performances of his players on international duty
Glasgow Warriors coach Gregor Townsend was delighted with the performances of his players on international duty

Despite tries from Glasgow winger Sean Maitland on his Scotland debut and Warriors full-back Stuart Hogg, the Scots were beaten 38-18 as the winless streak at Twickenham increased to 31 years.

A try on his England debut by Billy Twelvetrees and clinical scores from Chris Ashton, Geoff Parling and Danny Care, plus 18 points from the boot of man-of-the-match Owen Farrell, ultimately sunk Scott Johnston's Scotland side who never stopped fighting.

But after Italy stunned France in their opening outing of the RBS Six Nations, Toony has no doubt that the impending battle with the Azzurri has taken on extra significance.

The Italian job is the first of three home bows at Murrayfield, with Ireland and Wales also coming calling to the capital in the following two fixtures, before the Championship finale at the Stade de France against Les Bleus.

With the Scots' last success in the Six Nations coming against Italy at Murrayfield, in March 2011, the national side have now gone 11 games without a win.

But the Glasgow Warriors coach is confident of victory over the Italians and reckons that can provide a springboard to a strong showing this time around.

The former Scotland stand-off said: "The Italy game has huge significance for us now. I don't think there will be many changes and I also believe that Scotland will turn around and be better for the benefit of having the opening game under their belts.

"With the Italy match being the first of three games in a row at Murrayfield it is absolutely vital we use it to give ourselves a winning platform.

"So this game sets the tone for what comes and, if we can win, we have an opportunity to go on from here and have a positive Six Nations."

Townsend was delighted with the contribution of his Glasgow boys, with both tries coming from Maitland and Hogg. He has no doubt that we now have the firepower in the backline to give the Italians a torrid time.

Townsend said: "I thought Stuart Hogg was exceptional at Twickenham and he had his best game of the season. That just underlines what a big-game player he is.

"Some of his running lines were outstanding and his defensive work with the boot was exceptional.

"I was also delighted for Sean to get a try on his debut and that will give him a lot of confidence. So there were a lot of positives to take. I also think that we held our own in the set-piece and that bodes very well."

Townsend was also keen to laud another Warrior on national service after No.8 Ryan Wilson won the man-of-the-match award in the Scotland A 13-9 victory over the much- vaunted English Saxons.

He said: "That was a great win and I am delighted for Ryan that he has really used his opportunity to press his claim for elevation to the senior side."

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