Scotland hand Townsend the perfect start
REPORT: Scotland kicked off their mid-year tour in grand style on Saturday, thumping Italy 34-13 at Singapore's National Stadium in the team's first outing under new coach Gregor Townsend.
After struggling to turn their early dominance into points, the Scots piled on four unanswered tries in a 15-minute blitz once their new combinations finally started to click and the Italians began to wilt in the sweltering humidity of Southeast Asia.
Scrumhalf Ali Price and wing Tim Visser both scored in the final few minutes before half-time to give Scotland a commanding 13-3 lead at the break.
Then hooker Ross Ford, who had scored just once in his previous 107 appearances for Scotland, crossed twice at the start of the second term to blow the margin out to 24 points.
Italy, thrashed 0-29 by Scotland in the Six Nations, were showing real signs of fatigue in the steamy conditions and in danger of a heavy loss but finished the match strongly and were rewarded with late consolations tries against the run of play through outsider centre Michele Campagnaro and Angelo Esposito.
Scotland also scored late when wing Damien Hoyland crossed out wide after Italy were reduced to 14 men when replacement Abraham Steyn was sin-binned for dangerous play.
Scotland and Italy will both travel south of the Equator for tests against Australia and Fiji over the next fortnight.
Already without three players on British and Irish Lions duties in New Zealand, as well as losing several others to injuries, Scotland suffered another setback just before the kick-off when openside flank John Hardie injured his back in the warm-up and was forced to pull out, handing his spot to Ryan Wilson.
Ranked fifth in the world and against one of Italy's youngest sides in recent seasons, the Scots took control from the outset but it wasn't until just before half-time that they unleashed the shackles and produced some impressive rugby.
Visser's try on the stroke of half-time came off a clever chip kick from Scottish flyhalf Finn Russell while Ford's second try was the best of the night when he finished off a series of intricate passes.
Tries: Campagnaro, Esposito
Tries: Price, Visser, Ford 2, Hoyland
Cons: Taylor, Russell, Horne
Yellow cards: Dean Budd (Italy, 48; repeated infringements); Abraham Steyn (Italy, 72; tip tackle)
Italy: 15 Edoardo Padovani, 14 Angelo Esposito, 13 Michele Campagnaro, 12 Tommaso Boni, 11 Leonardo Sarto, 10 Tommaso Allan, 9 Edoardo Gori (captain), 8 Robert Barbieri, 7 Maxime Mbanda, 6 Francesco Minto, 5 Dean Budd, 4 Marco Fuser, 3 Simone Ferrari, 2 Luca Bigi, 1 Andrea Lovotti.
Replacements: 16 Ornel Gega, 17 Federico Zani, 18 Pietro Ceccarelli, 19 Andries van Schalkwyk, 20 Abraham Steyn, 21 Marcello Violi, 22 Carlo Canna, 23 Tommaso Benvenuti.
Scotland: 15 Duncan Taylor, 14 Damien Hoyland, 13 Matt Scott, 12 Alex Dunbar, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Ali Price, 8 Josh Strauss, 7 John Hardie, 6 John Barclay (captain), 5 Ben Toolis, 4 Tim Swinson, 3 WP Nel, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Allan Dell.
Replacements: 16 Gordon Reid, 17 Zander Fagerson, 18 Rob Harley, 19 Magnus Bradbury, 20 Ryan Wilson, 21 Henry Pyrgos, 22 Pete Horne.
Referee: Paul Williams (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Mike Fraser (New Zealand), Tim Baker (Hong Kong)
TMO: Minoru Fuji (Japan)