Six Nations: Cosmopolitan backs at heart of Scotland's rise during victory over Italy

Visser, Maitland and Hogg play starring role as Italy are outclassed in Murrayfield romp

Did you hear the one about the Dutchman, the New Zealander and the Scotsman? Everyone walked into the bars of Edinburgh on Saturday night toasting them – everyone except the Italian visitors, that is.

In Tim Vissser (a native of Zeewolde in the Netherlands), Sean Maitland (a kilted Kiwi from Tokoroa) and Stuart Hogg (a Borderer from Hawick), Scotland have discovered as potent a back three combination as they have ever enjoyed. At Twickenham on Six Nations opening day they scored two tries between them and at Murrayfield on Saturday they scored another two and set up one more as Scotland clicked into dynamic attacking form with a four-try, 34-10 demolition of Italy, conquerors of France the previous weekend.

That makes six tries in all for Scotland after two games –two more than they managed in the whole of their whitewashed, wooden spoon campaign of 2012, as many as they bagged in the entire 2011 Six Nations and twice as many as they plundered in 2010. All of a sudden, the hitherto dour, blunted Scots have found the kind of attacking verve and precision that hallmarked the revival of the Welsh in the mid-Noughties.

Scott Johnson was the attacking coach who breathed new fire into those Dragons. The Aussie is now the interim head coach of a Scotland team who proved on Saturday that, far from being possibly cut adrift from the rest of Europe's elite, they now possess a cutting edge which could threaten the continent's best.

"You can't put in what God left out," Johnson said about left wing Visser, right wing Maitland and full back Hogg, who have 12 months or less international experience and nine tries between them.

"I remember the early days with Wales, when we got a reputation as a free-flowing team. We didn't have people to go the distance. We had to pass a lot. They've got a long way to go and have ills in their game, but some special gifts. If they combine the gifts and improve the ills, we'll have a pretty deadly back three."

Visser needed no second invitation to step inside from the left touchline and take a beautifully delayed pass from stand-off Ruaridh Jackson to score on the half hour – a fifth try in seven appearances for the one-time England schools' flanker.

Then there was the vital incision that Maitland made into the attacking line to set up the second try for Matt Scott, whose centre combination with Sean Lamont is also starting to flourish. The piece de la resistance, though, was Hogg's perceptive interception of a Luciano Orquera pass 10 metres from the Scotland try line and his jink, swerve and sprint upfield to score. The 20-year-old might have the genius of George Best in his family genes, but after 12 caps he already looks like a Scottish rugby all-time great in the making – a combination of Andy Irvine and Jim Renwick.

Johnson was right, though, to keep Caledonian feet on the ground after a record Six Nations win for Scotland – and their first four-try feat in the championship for a decade. Lamont, who scored the other try with a wily hack out of a ruck and chase from halfway, was hailed as a back three sensation when he bagged a brace as a novice international winger against France in 2006 but before Saturday, he had scored just once in 42 Tests.

"That's one great win but it means nothing if we don't back it up next time," Johnson pondered ahead of Ireland's visit on Sunday week. "We did some really good things and showed some potency but need to get it right at the breakdown because the guys can't play without the ball.

"There has been a massive improvement from last week to this but it's still not where we want to be. To achieve the level we want to get to, we need to do this against the guys that do it best."

The flame-haired Rob Harley, making his first start at blindside flanker, the beavering skipper Kelly Brown and the assured John Beattie certainly got the better of the Italians at the crucial contact area – and in defence. Indeed, only when Beattie slipped on the turf six minutes from time did the off-colour Azzurri look like scoring, which Alessandro Zanni duly did.

Scotland: Tries Visser, Scott, Hogg, Lamont; Conversions Laidlaw 4; Penalties Laidlaw 2. Italy: Try Zanni; Conversion Burton; Penalty Orquera. Scotland S Hogg (M Evans, 73); S Maitland, S Lamont, M Scott T Visser; R Jackson, G Laidlaw (H Pyrgos; 76) R Grant (M Low, 60), R Ford, E Murray (G Cross, 70) R Gray, J Hamilton (A Kellock, 67), R Harley, K Brown (capt; D Denton, 70), J Beattie. Italy A Masi; G Vednditti, T Benvenuti, G Canale, L McLean; L Orquera (K Burton, 48), T Botes (E Gori, 48); A Lo Cicero (A De Marchi, 60), L Ghiraldini (D Giazzon, 60), M Catsrogiovanni (L Cittadini, 64), Q Geldenhuys (A Pavanello, 60), F Minto, A Zanni, S Favaro (P Derbyshire, 68), S Parisse (capt).

Referee J Peyper (South Africa).

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave long-running series
Arts and Entertainment
Game Of Thrones
Uh-oh, winter is coming. Ouch, my eyes! Ygritte’s a goner. Lysa’s a goner. Tywin’s a goner. Look, a dragon
tvSpoiler warning:The British actor says viewers have 'not seen the last' of his character
Sport
The Etihad Stadium, home of Manchester City
premier league

The Independent's live blog of today's Premier League action

News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
voices
Sport
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Sport
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
athletics
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: 'Time Heist' sees a darker side to Peter Capaldi's Doctor
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
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

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
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam