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).

News
The current recommendation from Britain's Chief Medical Officer, is that people refrain from drinking on at least two days a week
food + drinkTheory is that hangovers are caused by methanol poisoning
Life and Style
techConcept would see planes coated in layer of micro-sensors and able to sense wear and tear
News
Patrick Stewart in the classiest ice bucket to date
people
Sport
Premier League Live Saturday 23 August
sportAll the action from today's Premier League matches
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
Life and Style
Horst P Horst mid-fashion shoot in New York, 1949
fashionFar-reaching retrospective to celebrate Horst P Horst's six decades of creativity
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
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

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition