Robinson loses Evans for Scotland's bid to avoid wooden spoon

Last Saturday morning, even before Italy had taken the biscuit in the 2011 Six Nations Championship by beating France in Rome and lifting the Garibaldi Trophy, four of their players could be seen on the back page of La Gazzetta Dello Sport wearing kilts in an advert for Glen Grant whisky. "Spirito Di Squadra," the headline proclaimed.

The question is: can Nick Mallett's men summon enough of the spirit that swept them to a momentous 22-21 victory in the delirious Stadio Flaminio a week ago to avoid being left with the Six Nations booby prize at Murrayfield this afternoon? We shall see, over the course of what promises to be an intriguing wooden-spoon decider.

Scotland, of course, need to win to avoid a whitewash as well as bottom place at the end of a campaign they entered with hope of making an impact, on the back of five wins in six matches. They line up today without their only try scorer from their last three matches, Max Evans having yesterday lost his battle to recover from an ankle problem. The Glasgow player will be replaced on the left wing by the Osprey Nikki Walker.

It is undoubtedly a blow to Andy Robinson's side, who have not crossed the opposition whitewash in their last eight matches at Murrayfield. Evans scored a fine try at Twickenham last Sunday, with a neat chip and catch. "Our medical team have worked tirelessly as ever, but Max is not quite ready for the rigours of a Test match," Robinson, Scotland's head coach, reported. "We wish him a speedy recovery."

Kelly Brown has recovered from the concussion he suffered courtesy of Matt Banahan's shoulder six days ago but the Saracens back rower might still give Robinson another headache. His participation depends on the timing of his pregnant wife's contractions. "She's due pretty much any day," Brown said. "If I get that call I think I'll have to go."

After a pregnant pause on the form front, Scotland delivered a vastly improved performance against England and – with or without Brown, who did a sterling job in the No 8 position at Twickenham – they will need to build on that today if they are to avoid the wooden spoon.

Robinson has urged his side to produce "a hard-nosed complete 80-minute display". "The focus for us this weekend is to do what the Italians did last weekend and get over the line by making sure we score more points than the opposition," he added. "It's important that we put in a performance that is for 80 minutes and not just for 30 or 40."

Having put in an impressive 30-minute performance off the bench at Twickenham, Geoff Cross starts at tight-head prop in the only unenforced change made by Robinson. Mallett has made six alterations, despite his side's stunning victory against the French.

It seems that Italy's head coach is still under pressure from the national federation but this afternoon he returns to a happy hunting ground. Mallett was in charge of the Springboks when they inflicted a record 68-10 defeat on Scotland at Murrayfield in 1997.

The Italians, of course, have prevailed in Edinburgh before. In 2007 they plundered three tries in the opening six minutes and paraded around Murrayfield in pirate hats at the final whistle. It remains their only success on the road in the Six Nations.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
musicBand's first new record for 20 years has some tough acts to follow
News
Shoppers in Covent Garden, London, celebrate after they were the first to buy the iPhone 6, released yesterday
tech
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments