Rugby Union: Tait wary of Italian threat

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SCOTLAND CENTRE Alan Tait has warned his team-mates to forget any thoughts of a simple task against Italy today today as he aims to erase the memory of last year's defeat in Treviso. The Lion will be at the heart of the midfield battle in the friendly against Italy at Murrayfield, as Jim Telfer's team try to retain the momentum generated by their first two matches in this year's Five Nations campaign.

A victory over Wales at Murrayfield and a near miss at Twickenham a fortnight ago has caused a rising tide of optimism among Scottish supporters. The Italy game is expected to provide further evidence of an upturn in fortunes, although Tait is adopting a cautious approach.

One of four survivors from the starting line-up that finally succumbed 25-21 under a barrage of Italian pressure in Treviso last January, the Edinburgh Reiver and former rugby league player is anxious to avoid a repeat showing.

"The Italians left a lot of memories last year, and they were not good ones," he admitted. "Even though we were winning right up until the last five minutes, it didn't feel like we were in front. We were under the cosh for the whole game."

Tait will be hoping to maintain his try-scoring streak. A vital effort as a replacement against Wales and a double at Twickenham took his tally to 12 tries in only 19 Tests, and provided further evidence of a back division with a clear cutting edge.

"I think the public are expecting us to just move on and take Italy in our stride," Telfer said. "But they are a fairly similar side to the one that played against us [in Treviso] and are more experienced now, whereas we have a vastly changed side.

"There is no way we are taking this one lightly. It is just like a Six Nations match to us and we have prepared accordingly."

SCOTLAND: G Metcalfe (Glasgow Caledonians); C Murray (Edinburgh Reivers), A Tait (Edinburgh Reivers), J Leslie (Sanix), K Logan (Wasps); G Townsend (Brive), I Fairley (Edinburgh Reivers); T Smith (Glasgow Caledonians), G Bulloch (Glasgow Caledonians), P Burnell (London Scottish), S Murray (Bedford), S Grimes (Glasgow Caledonians), P Walton (Newcastle Falcons), E Peters (Bath, capt), M Leslie (Edinburgh Reivers). Replacements: S Longstaff (Glasgow Caledonians), C Chalmers (Edinburgh Reivers), G Burns (Edinburgh Reivers), B Pountney (Northampton), A Reed (Wasps), D Hilton (Bath), S Brotherstone (Edinburgh Reivers).

ITALY: J Pertile (RDS Roma); D Dallan (Benetton Treviso), C Stoica (Narbonne), L Martin (Begles Bordeaux), F Roselli (RDS Roma); D Dominguez (Stade Francais), A Troncon (Benetton Treviso); F Properzi (Benetton Treviso), A Moscardi (Benetton Treviso), A Castellani (RDS Roma), M Giacheri (West Hartlepool), W Cristofoletto (Benetton Treviso), M Giovanelli (Narbonne), C Checcinato (Benetton Treviso), A Sgorlon (Benetton Treviso). Replacements: G Mazzi (RBS Roma), L Pavin (Benetton Treviso), M Baroni (Padova), S Saviozzi (Benetton Treviso), M Cuttita (Fly Flot Calvisano), S Stocco (Padova), C Caione (RDS Roma).