Amid all the drama of the threatened players strike ahead of the England game, Wales endured a nightmare start to Warren Gatland’s tenure with three straight defeats, but victory over Italy in Rome last time out will have buoyed Welsh fans.
France, who just demolished England and are the No 2 side in the world, are undoubtedly a huge step up but with many of their veteran stars playing in what is presumed to be their final Six Nations match, Gatland’s troops will have plenty of motivation.
For their part, Les Bleus can still win the title - although it will require an unlikely favour in Dublin from an England side still reeling from last weekend’s obliteration at Twickenham - but even if the trophy eludes them, Fabien Galthie’s men will be keen to head into a home World Cup later this year with four wins from five in the championship.
Follow live coverage from the Stade de France below after the conclusion of Scotland vs Italy:
France vs Wales - live Six Nations updates
Full live coverage of France vs Wales after the conclusion of Scotland vs Italy
France host Wales in the middle Six Nations game of Super Saturday
France still have an outside shot of winning the title if they beat Wales handsomely and England stun Ireland in Dublin
Wales are looking to build on their first win of the championship against Italy last week
Ireland vs England to come later
Team News - Wales
14:29 , Harry Latham-Coyle
One final spin of the Warren Gatland selection wheel for the 2023 Six Nations sees the Wales head coach go back to some of the more experienced members of his squad. Taulupe Faletau brings up cap number 100 at number eight, and is joined in the pack by Alun Wyn Jones, back amongst things after being left out entirely against Italy.
Also in to the starting group of forwards is Aaron Wainwright, a favourite of the last years of the first Gatland regime but in for the first time this championship. Dan Biggar returns at fly-half while Nick Tompkins and George North take over in the centres, with Louis Rees-Zammit’s sparkle preferred to Leigh Halfpenny’s solidity at full-back after Liam Williams’s injury.
Wales XV: Wyn Jones, Ken Owens (capt.), Tomas Francis; Adam Beard, Alun Wyn Jones; Aaron Wainwright, Justin Tipuric, Taulupe Faletau; Rhys Webb, Dan Biggar; Rio Dyer, Nick Tompkins, George North, Josh Adams; Louis Rees-Zammit.
Replacements: Bradley Roberts, Gareth Thomas, Dillon Lewis, Daffyd Jenkins, Tommy Reffell; Tomos Williams, Owen Williams, Leigh Halfpenny.
— Welsh Rugby Union 🏴 (@WelshRugbyUnion) March 16, 2023
Team News - France
14:26 , Harry Latham-Coyle
After that dynamite display at Twickenham a week ago, Fabien Galthie makes only two changes to his French starting fifteen. Paul Willemse was a casualty of the efforts against England, but Romain Taofifenua provides appropriately beefy back-up to the lock, and forms a burly right-side of the French scrum with Uini Atonio cleared to return after his suspension.
Taofifenua’s elevation leaves space on the bench for another lock, with Bastien Chalureau of Montepellier readied for a Six Nations debut.
France XV: Cyril Baille, Julien Marchand, Uini Atonio; Thibaud Flament, Romain Taofifenua; Francois Cros, Charles Ollivon, Gregory Alldritt; Antoine Dupont (capt.), Romain Ntamack; Ethan Dumortier, Jonathan Danty, Gael Fickou, Damian Penaud; Thomas Ramos.
Replacements: Peato Mauvaka, Reda Wardi, Sipili Falatea, Bastien Chalureau, Sekou Macalou; Maxime Lucu, Yoram Moefana, Melvyn Jaminet.
🤩 Voici 𝙣𝙤𝙩𝙧𝙚 𝙚́𝙦𝙪𝙞𝙥𝙚 pour affronter le Pays de Galles pour le dernier match de cette édition 2023 du #SixNations 🏴
📅 Samedi 18.03 | 15H45
🏟️ @StadeFrance #NeFaisonsXV #FRAPDG pic.twitter.com/PoxkxAsjea
— France Rugby (@FranceRugby) March 16, 2023
On to France vs Wales...
14:26 , Harry Latham-Coyle
We’ve hardly time to draw breath before the second Super Saturday instalment, so it’s time for a swift switch of focus to affairs in Paris.
There will be plenty more reaction to Scotland’s win over Italy across The Independent this weekend, but for now, on to France vs Wales...
— Welsh Rugby Union 🏴 (@WelshRugbyUnion) March 18, 2023
F/T: Scotland 26-14 Italy
14:24 , Harry Latham-Coyle
A neat encapsulation of Italy’s tournament in those final moments there - so close, and yet so far for Kieran Crowley’s side, who ultimately end with another wooden spoon. Scotland’s bonus-point victory should secure them third place, a just final result for another campaign of plenty of positives.
FULL TIME! SCOTLAND 26-14 ITALY
14:22 , Harry Latham-Coyle
TRY! SCOTLAND 26-14 Italy (Blair Kinghorn try, 81 minutes)
14:19 , Harry Latham-Coyle
A hat-trick, a bonus point - Scotland go the length to finish with a flourish!
So, so cruel on Italy, from metres short to underneath their own posts in an instant. Italy are penalised at the scrum so Ali Price says “why not?”, passing away to his left.
Duhan van der Merwe makes the initial bust on the outside, supported by Blair Kinghorn, equally long of leg and impressive on the gallop. Despairing Italian tacklers dive at his heels but can’t bring the striding thoroughbred down. For a second time, Kinghorn has a Six Nations hat-trick against Italy, and Scotland will add five more points to their final 2023 Six Nations tally.
Scotland 19-14 Italy, 79 minutes
14:19 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Knocked on! Michele Lamaro cries foul - surely there was a Scottish tackler offside? “I can’t check it,” Angus Gardner says, sticking with his call of a Scottish scrum.
See this out and the hosts will be there...
Scotland 19-14 Italy, 78 minutes
14:17 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Thrice Italy are nearly there but Scotland just about hold firm! The boulder-like Manfredi’s initial surge is sharp, darting to within a metre, and Marco Zanon nearly biffs through. Alessandro Garbisi dives for the line between two Scottish bodies but loses control.
Back for another penalty as Jamie Ritchie is warned about his side’s discipline.
Scotland 19-14 Italy, 77 minutes
14:16 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Italy’s forwards power into the Scottish fringe defence, getting little joy. Wide, Juan Ignacio Brex tumbles as he takes...but Scotland are offside.
Penalty to the visitors. Five points, three minutes. What’s the call? Marco Manfredi will quick tap...
Scotland 19-14 Italy, 76 minutes
14:14 , Harry Latham-Coyle
A break up the right from Pierre Bruno, and Italy win a penalty. Prodded into the corner with four minutes left. This feels very, very like Cardiff last year.
Scotland 19-14 Italy, 74 minutes
14:13 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Tommmaso Allan’s smartly taken score and a Paolo Garbisi penalty leave Italy within striking distance as they seek another famous final day Six Nations triumph:
— Guinness Six Nations (@SixNationsRugby) March 18, 2023
Scotland 19-14 Italy, 73 minutes
14:12 , Harry Latham-Coyle
But can’t pounce as Matt Fagerson knocks on! A slightly needless pass from WP Nel, who has space in front of him to rumble but instead fizzes in the direction of the replacement back-row, who is taken man-and-ball and spills forward.
Scotland 19-13 Italy, 73 minutes
14:11 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Italy’s second debutant of the day is introduced - welcome to international rugby, Marco Manfredi, with the hooker tasked with throwing a lineout inside his own 22 immediately.
And Scotland steal it!...
Scotland 19-14 Italy, 72 minutes
14:10 , Harry Latham-Coyle
More replacements come on, WP Nel on the Scottish tighthead and Marco Zanon in the Italian backline.
Ben Healy’s up-and-under is tapped back into Scottish hands. Ali Price twice makes smart decisions, directing his box kicks towards the touchline nicely, with the second of them hopping into touch.
Scotland 19-14 Italy, 69 minutes
14:08 , Harry Latham-Coyle
A mighty smite from Federico Ruzza to earn Italy a penalty! The danger klaxons begin to sound for the visitors as Scotland swell again after Price’s scamper, but a carrier is rocked back by the lock, making his 18th tackle and earning a penalty as Scotland dive off their feet to protect the ball.
Scotland 19-13 Italy, 68 minutes
14:06 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Ali Price breaks away! A brilliant Italian turnover inside the Scotland 22 but a loose offload allows the repalcement Scotland scrum-half to snatch the ball out of the sky and hurry out of danger.
He’s eventually hauled in by Tommaso Allan deep inside the Italy half.
Scotland 19-14 Italy, 68 minutes
14:05 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Scotland need to re-energise both themselves and the crowd, with the home side having lost their way almost entirely since Blair Kinghorn’s second score.
Now this could be a significant moment - a switch at fly-half, with Ben Healy on for his Scotland debut and tasked with seeing things out. Kinghorn remains on, moving to full-back with Ollie Smith replaced.
Cameron Redpath takes over from Sione Tuipulotu at inside centre.
PENALTY! Scotland 19-14 ITALY (Paolo Garbisi penalty, 66 minutes)
14:03 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Paolo Garbisi takes over kicking duties from Tommaso Allan, with the angle favouring his left boot. Garbisi’s first strike of the day is clean, and Italy are within a single score.
Scotland 19-11 Italy, 65 minutes
14:02 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Now then. For the first time in a long while the Italian horns sound in the stands with the home crowd still flat. Manuel Zuliani jackals to win both a turnover and a penalty out of Sione Tuipulotu after the centre had retreated to retrieve his fumble.
Michele Lamaro points at the posts.
TRY! Scotland 19-11 ITALY (Tommaso Allan try, 63 minutes)
13:59 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Italy finally unlock the Scottish defence! That is wonderfully taken by their play-making partnership, Tommaso Allan capitalising on a delectably dribbled through-pass from Paolo Garbisi.
Scotland failed to find touch after winning possession, allowing Pierre Bruno and Simone Gesi to run the ball back. Juan Ignacio Brex injects himself at first receiver, allowing Garbisi and Allan to add width in the next phase in the pattern.
Garbisi takes his brother’s pass and drops the ball on to his left in-step, weighting his little grubber perfectly to allow Allan to take without breaking stride and score in the left corner.
Allan’s conversion isn’t quite there.
Scotland 19-6 Italy, 61 minutes
13:58 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Right, time for Italy to live this up a little? Gioacomo Nicotera is still rumbling away, hitting his lineout target to allow his side to build inside the Scotland 22 and offering hismelf twice as a carrier.
That’s nice - Juan Ignacio Brex picks a lovely pass to centre partner Luca Morisi at the line.
But Scotland have it. A bold offload from Paolo Garbisi hits lifted limbs and ends up back in home hands.
Scotland 19-6 Italy, 59 minutes
13:57 , Harry Latham-Coyle
A long period with the ball in play ends when a tired Scottish forward strays offside, enabling everyone to draw a much-needed breath.
A trio of changes for Scotland: enter Ali Price, Rory Sutherland and Scott Cummings; exit Ben White, Pierre Schoeman and Jonny Gray.
Scotland 19-6 Italy, 57 minutes
13:55 , Harry Latham-Coyle
There’s just a sense that some of the intensity has gone out of the contest with Murrayfield quiet and the game in a bit of a holding pattern. Italy can’t make much of possession near halfway and Paolo Garbisi’s purposeless left-ward lift won’t bring any joy, either.
Scotland 19-6 Italy, 56 minutes
13:54 , Harry Latham-Coyle
The Murrayfield surface churns up beneath 32 pumping feet as the two sets of forwards lock scrum horns. Danilo Fischetti is picked out as the cause of an eventual collapse.
After a typically busy afternoon, that is Fischetti’s final act - Federico Zani comes on, joined by prop partner Pietro Ceccarelli, who takes the place of Marco Riccioni.
Scotland 19-6 Italy, 55 minutes
13:51 , Harry Latham-Coyle
An intelligent cross-kick from Tommaso Allan finds Luca Morisi on the left, but Kyle Steyn scrags the centre and hauls him towards touch. Morisi manages to release a pass of sorts, and it bounces up into Simone Gesi’s hands, but not before travelling forward.
Scotland 19-6 Italy, 54 minutes
13:50 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Through the hands at the tail and a chance goes begging! A slight overthrow, maybe, and Matt Fagerson is sharply on to it to allow Scotland to clear.
Scotland 19-6 Italy, 53 minutes
13:49 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Italy’s maul still seems in good working order, chugging away up the right to earn the visitors a third penalty in quick succession. Paolo Garbisi asks his forwards to go again.
Scotland 19-6 Italy, 52 minutes
13:48 , Harry Latham-Coyle
We’ve got three sets of siblings out there, now - Alessandro Garbisi joins brother Paolo in Italy halves, with the brothers Fagerson and Cannone all still amongst things.
Italy win another penalty and kick into the Scotland 22.
Scotland 19-6 Italy, 51 minutes
13:46 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Matt Fagerson is introduced in the Scotland back-row and immediately infringes, catching Lorenzo Cannone high to gift Italy an easy clearance.
Scotland 19-6 Italy, 50 minutes
13:46 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Pierre Schoeman steals Italian possession on halfway and Scotland play. Sione Tuipulotu and Hamish Watson each meander in search of space, keeping things flowing as they bend left and right.
Kyle Steyn scythes through a tackle, before Tuipulotu drops ball to boot to intelligently spin the Italian defensive line. The ball tumbles out of play seven metres short of the line.
Scotland 19-6 Italy, 48 minutes
13:43 , Harry Latham-Coyle
A horrible final pass! Accuracy was Italy’s problem last week and it costs them again here, Alessandro Fusco deftly gliding through a hole around the fringes and looking to his left, where Simone Gesi waits for a pass. Fusco drills it three feet ahead of his wing, who has not a hope of claiming it. Head coach Kieran Crowley lifts his hands to his head.
Scotland 19-6 Italy, 47 minutes
13:41 , Harry Latham-Coyle
That’s Negri’s last involvement, with the back-row looking to be carrying a knock of some kind as promising back-row Manuel Zuliani relieves him. Edoardo Iachizzi is replaced, too - Niccolo Cannone returns after an earlier involvement in the encounter while the lock underwent an HIA.
TRY! SCOTLAND 19-6 Italy (Blair Kinghorn try, 45 minutes)
13:38 , Harry Latham-Coyle
A second try for Blair Kinghorn!
That’s what a six-foot-five fly-half can do! Scottish forwards bash booming fists on the Italian door, weakening the hinges before their ten crashes through. Kinghorn picks a spot between Juan Ignacio Brex and Sebastian Negri and shoulders their tackles to push through to the line.
Kinghorn converts from the tee and can go in search of a second Six Nations hat-trick against Italy.
Scotland 12-6 Italy, 43 minutes
13:38 , Harry Latham-Coyle
What a tackle from Lamaro! The openside piles in alongside Giacomo Nicotera to somehow hold Scotland short as the carrier appeared ready to ground over the line.
Scotland continue, though...
Scotland 12-6 Italy, 42 minutes
13:37 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Michele Lamaro looks totally perplexed. The Italian captain is penalised for going off his feet seconds after Angus Gardner appears to clear teammate Cannone’s turnover, Lamaro demanding a detailed explanation and not entirely satisified by the referee’s explanation.
Still, penalty to Scotland, who return to Italy’s 22.
Scotland 12-6 Italy, 41 minutes
13:35 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Enterprising play initially from Italy to start the half, Lorenzo Cannone carrying in a forthright manner and swift transfers then freeing Pierre Bruno to nearly escape Duhan van der Merwe’s clutches. But Scotland soon snaffle breakdown ball.
13:33 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Scotland and Italy are back out there, Gregor Townsend and his staff re-taking their seats behind the desk in the home coaching box.
Blair Kinghorn will get things back underway.
An injured Stuart Hogg gives his half-time thoughts to the BBC
13:32 , Harry Latham-Coyle
“We’ll back ourselves to score points. There have been some good things and not so good things - the Italians are a gritty bunch. I think we’ll count ourselves lucky not to have conceded, to be honest.
“You’ve got to work really hard for your points. The Italians were incredibly disciplined in what they were doing. You could see how knackered they were at times. I love that Scotland at the end of the half could have easily kicked it off, but I loved the enthusiasm and energy to go for it.”
H/T: Scotland 12-6 Italy
13:29 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Italy survived the yellow card period for just the concession of that single score, which keeps them in the game. It looked early on as if Kieran Crowley had shifted his strategy slightly, with Tommaso Allan doing lots of early kicking from hand at first receiver, but later on in the half the Italian attack begin to work nicely with Paolo Garbisi controlling effectively.
But they’ve had to do a lot of defending so far: Danilo Fischetti and Federico Ruzza have both already made 14 tackles, and while this Italian side is fit, you could feel them fatiguing a little in that extended offensive movement towards the end of the first half.
H/T: Scotland 12-6 Italy
13:24 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Both coaches will feel a little disappointed with that half, each side guilty of wasting opportunities and time inside the opposition 22 - Scotland particularly so. The home side did score twice, with Duhan van der Merwe taking his score brilliantly before Blair Kinghorn capitalised on an under-resourced Italian defence to ensure a half-time Scottish lead.
— Guinness Six Nations (@SixNationsRugby) March 18, 2023
HALF TIME! SCOTLAND 12-6 ITALY
13:21 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Scotland 12-6 Italy, 43 minutes
13:19 , Harry Latham-Coyle
A try-saving intervening hand from Simone Gesi! We’ve seen so little of the debutant so far but that’s a vital moment in the first half’s throes, somehow getting back to deny a certain Scottish score.
It was lovely play from Scotland, Duhan van der Merwe used as a link-man off his wing to create an overlap which Kyle Steyn exploits. Steyn lobs an offload in the direction of Ollie Smith with line agape, but Gesi somehow lassos it, allowing his teammates to smother the ball into touch and take us to the interval.
Scotland 12-6 Italy, 42 minutes
13:18 , Harry Latham-Coyle
And Italy eventually run totally out of puff - Sebastian Negri looks exhausted as he falls into Zander Fagerson, who jackals strongly to win Scotland a penalty.
Scotland 12-6 Italy, 41 minutes
13:17 , Harry Latham-Coyle
One last go for the visitors before the half comes to a close. Their initial efforts don’t promise much but Paolo Garbisi, Juan Ignacio Brex and Tommaso Allan combine effectively, and the momentum is reloaded.
Danilo Fischetti hits a sharp line off Garbisi’s shoulder, but Alessandro Fusco is forced to go in to secure the ball, slowing Italy again.
Scotland 12-6 Italy, 40 minutes
13:16 , Harry Latham-Coyle
An extended passage leaves both sets of players gasping, with Scotland’s edges just starting to fray. Zander Fagerson waits to take a pass in a wider channel than the tighthead might usually occupy, and he can’t quite reach for it. Jamie Ritchie knocks on and plays the ball on the floor - penalty to Italy, who are then restored to full complement by the returns of Marco Riccioni and Simone Gesi.
Scotland 12-6 Italy, 39 minutes
13:15 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Italian hands knock the ball on in the air and a group of forwards had failed to retreat, too, prompting an arm of advantage from Angus Gardner. Scotland can thus play extravagantly, with Sione Tuipulotu among those adding the fancy touches.
Advantage is over as Sam Skinner thumps through a tackle to get towards the Italian 22.
Scotland 12-6 Italy, 36 minutes
13:13 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Three minutes left on Marco Riccioni’s sin-binning but Italy seem to be doing fine without their tighthead. They play with terrific patience, Alessandro Fusco picking his runners nicely and then going himself when a chance appears.
Around the corner come the coal trimmers, Edoardo Iachizzi and Federico Ruzza out of the engine room and ready to make dents, but the lock pair aren’t quite on the same page, with a short pass colliding with Ruzza’s forehead and ending back in Iachizzi’s hands. Scotland’s scrum for offside.
Scotland 12-6 Italy, 34 minutes
13:11 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Angus Gardner rewards Danilo Fischetti for his scrum-time efforts this time, with Italy happy to let some seconds tick by before Paolo Garbisi unfurls another lengthy punt to touch. The visitors return to advanced territory for the first time in a while, with Edoardo Iachizzi back amongst their number after passing his HIA.
Scotland 12-6 Italy, 32 minutes
13:09 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Smart thinking from Scotland, flinging the ball out to Kyle Steyn on the right wing knowing that Simone Gesi is off, allowing the former sevens star to make easy metres up the touchline.
Italy re-form well as Scotland spread to the left. But Jack Dempsey pops free, scurrying away from a pair of Italians after a messy breakdown and connecting with Duhan van der Merwe.
Bosh! Van der Merwe collides Sebastian Negri in a rather beefy meeting, with the Italian back-row getting the better of it. Knocked on - Italy’s scrum.
TRY! SCOTLAND 12-6 Italy (Blair Kinghorn try, 30 minutes)
13:05 , Harry Latham-Coyle
At last, Scotland go over!
A midfield scrum leaves Italy in all sorts of defensive bother having sacrificed a back. Ben White picks the left, holding the inside defenders by threatening a carry and then finding his half-back partner. Blair Kinghorn steps inside Alessandro Fusco and through Michele Lamaro’s low tackle to score Scotland’s second. He knocks through the conversion, too.
Scotland 5-6 Italy, 29 minutes
13:04 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Poor Simone Gesi has played half-an-hour of international rugby and his first major involvement will be a ten-minute removal to allow the introduction of Pietro Ceccarelli as Scotland call for another scrum.
Yellow card! Marco Riccioni is sent to the sin bin! Scotland 5-6 Italy, 29 minutes
13:04 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Down it goes again, and off Riccioni will go. That feels very harsh on the Italian tighthead - it looked like the scrum went down first on the other side, with Zander Fagerson looking to turn in under pressure from Danilo Fischetti. But you felt Angus Gardner’s mind might already have been made up - the Australian referee retrieves his yellow card and dispatches the Saracens prop for a ten minute sit-down.
Scotland 5-6 Italy, 27 minutes
13:02 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Marco Riccioni is pinged again. The Italian tighthead and his front-row mates are summoned for a stern warning from Angus Gardner, with captain Michele Lamaro told a card may be coming.
Scotland 5-6 Italy, 27 minutes
13:01 , Harry Latham-Coyle
A scrum penalty for Scotland as Italy once again draw Angus Gardner’s whistle with an early transference of weight into Scottish shoulders.
Jamie Ritchie doesn’t fancy three. Down again for another engagement.
Scotland 5-6 Italy, 26 minutes
13:00 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Scotland build the phases again, seven, eight, nine and still five metres short. Lorenzo Cannone leads a counter-ruck and the ball pops into Italian hands, but not before a little knock-on on the floor.
Scotland get another chance. They could do with another moment of magic like their opening score:
''That's the best aerial finish I've ever seen in my life!''
''His feet were in the West Stand!''
Stop what you're doing and watch this spectacular try from Duhan van der Merwe. 🤯#BBCRugby #SCOvITA #SixNations pic.twitter.com/uaxbvY1fUa
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) March 18, 2023
Scotland 5-6 Italy, 24 minutes
12:58 , Harry Latham-Coyle
The scrum goes down, with referee Angus Gardner delivering some instructions to both front rows in an attempt to solve the issues. He asks for better height on the reset.
Free kick to Scotland - too much weight on from Italy. The hosts tap and go...
Scotland 5-6 Italy, 23 minutes
12:57 , Harry Latham-Coyle
And Italy survive again! Jamie Ritchie is hoisted early but George Turner’s throw comes late, and the Scotland captain knocks on in the air with no Italian competing.
That’s an extended period in the opposition 22 without points for Scotland. All a little too wasteful from the home side.
Scotland 5-6 Italy, 22 minutes
12:56 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Edoardo Iachizzi will need an HIA after his head collided with Schoeman’s knee. Niccolo Cannone joins his younger brother Lorenzo in the Italy pack.
Scotland 5-6 Italy, 21 minutes
12:55 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Scotland’s maul is once more stalled so it is back to their mighty wing menace, Duhan van der Merwe drawing three Italian defenders and still proving tough to stop.
Ben White snipes to within a matter of inches. Pierre Schoeman waits to biff over...dropped with the line in sight! Schoeman was just a little static as he paused to take a pop pass, and a firm contact to the ball knocks it loose.
Hang on - TMO Brett Cronan believes Edoardo Iachizzi hasn’t quite wrapped his arms. Scotland get a penalty for a no-arms tackle, Schoeman gets a reprieve.
Scotland 5-6 Italy, 19 minutes
12:52 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Maul, and George Turner breaks away...a metre shy. Jonny Gray lumbers it up, and then Zander Fagerson too.
Now wide, behind George Turner to Blair Kinghorn and then on to Ollie Smith. Kinghorn again...bundled towards touch.
Kinghorn managed to hurl a desperate offload infield just before his boots were chalked - an Italian leg sent the ball out so Scotland will throw a five-metre lineout on the opposite touchline.
Scotland 5-6 Italy, 18 minutes
12:51 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Italy’s accuracy again lets them down, though, and Scotland pour through, driving Italy back. That’s not a good sight, either - Danilo Fischetti is staggering about with an apparent injury.
Italy’s chasing forwards are then offside as Paolo Garbisi’s kick fails to make the touchline. Edoardo Iachizzi is also struggling with an injury of some kind, but both he and tight five colleague Fischetti will form part of the defensive Italian lineout as Scotland kick to the right corner.
Scotland 5-6 Italy, 17 minutes
12:49 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Italy’s restart drill is competent enough and Allan boots the ball long into the Scottish backfield, from where the hosts will run it back.
Thrice forward carriers are stalled, so it is to the air for Ben White, too, flighting his box slightly too far and allowing Paolo Garbisi to step elegantly beyond two chasers.
Tommaso Menoncello also puts some lively footwork on, but is just about hauled down as Simone Gesi begins to get excited outside his centre.
PENALTY! Scotland 5-6 ITALY (Tommaso Allan penalty, 16 minutes)
12:47 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Neatly popped through by Tommaso Allan, now hitting the fairways after that early errant effort. Italy back in front.
Scotland 5-3 Italy, 15 minutes
12:46 , Harry Latham-Coyle
I think it would be safe to say that restarts will be a work-on for virtually all the Six Nations coaches after this campaign - every side in the competition has struggled at times with kick receipt after scoring. Jack Dempsey isolates himself as he runs away from his support in to a brace of Italian front rowers, Giacomo Nicotera dumping him on his back and allowing Marco Riccioni to lock over the top of the ball.
Tommaso Allan gestures for the tee for a third time in these opening 15 minutes.
TRY! SCOTLAND 5-3 Italy (Duhan van der Merwe try, 13 minutes)
12:43 , Harry Latham-Coyle
What a finish from Duhan van der Merwe!
Superb from the giant wing! Huw Jones skips away from the Italian defence and fades to the outside, creating room to pass flat to Van der Merwe on the run.
Paolo Garbisi rushes across and collides with the far larger man, sending his feet spinning out into the Firth of Forth, but Van der Merwe reaches a long right arm back in to play, contorting around the corner flag to place firmly and score before his toes hit the deck.
Scotland 0-3 Italy, 12 minutes
12:42 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Hint of an overlap...away from the waiting players! Italy just about rush up in time to hassle Blair Kinghorn playing the link out the back, with the fly-half’s flick missing two teammates outside him.
But Scotland daren’t dally - George Turner taps and goes quickly, and has Van der Merwe managed to acrobatically dot down in the corner?
Scotland 0-3 Italy, 11 minutes
12:41 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Italy’s maul defence is rather better formed than their hosts’ was a few minutes ago, but Duhan van der Merwe ensures Scotland retain some form of momentum by skipping by a couple of would-be tacklers.
Sione Tuipulotu shows brightly on a couple of occasions, niftily shifting on from his chest to Van der Merwe as he is tackled low. Advantage coming; pressure building...
Scotland 0-3 Italy, 9 minutes
12:40 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Italy have kicked possession every time they’ve had it so far, but there’s the adventure we’ve so associated them with during this tournament, forwards and backs playing to width inside their own 22. A wayward pass hits the deck to end that particular exploration, and Alessandro Fusco is forced to rather hurry a box kick away.
It fails to find touch and back come Scotland, with Edoardo Iachizzi pinged for grabbing Ben White before the scrum-half has hands on the ball. Scotland poke the penalty into the Italian 22.
PENALTY! Scotland 0-3 ITALY (Tommaso Allan penalty, 8 minutes)
12:38 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Indeed he does. From just right of centre inside the Scotland 22, Allan puts Italy ahead.
Scotland 0-0 Italy, 6 minutes
12:37 , Harry Latham-Coyle
That’s a statement of intent from the Italian maul - forwards they march, with Scotland struggling to halt them legally. George Turner is penalised for falling beneath it, and with the advantage coming Italy spread it.
Two more penalisable infringements against Scotland - might Angus Gardner consider a card? No, just back for the penalty as Juan Ignacio Brex’s wide fling evades Simone Gesi.
Italy aren’t tempted to try again at the lineout; Tommaso Allan will surely this time knock through the three.
Scotland 0-0 Italy, 5 minutes
12:35 , Harry Latham-Coyle
A defensive breakdown infringement gives Italy another penalty in not dissimilar position, but Paolo Garbisi takes charge and will punt down into the Scottish 22.
Lovely kick. Giacomo Nicotera will throw 12 metres out.
Missed penalty! Scotland 0-0 Italy, 4 minutes
12:34 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Not the best of starts from the tee from Tommaso Allan, once of Scotland’s Under-20s. A bit of a snap hook, and away to the left from 40 metres out.
Scotland 0-0 Italy, 2 minutes
12:33 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Juan Ignacio Brex carves on an outside arc before straightening, well held by a crabbing Kinghorn. Tommaso Allan steps in at first receiver and launches an up-and-under.
A couple more kicks and Italy get over the ball as Scotland take contact, Danilo Fischetti knifing in after Scotland’s initial clearers fail to protect a tackled Duhan van der Merwe. Italy will have first go at starting the scoring.
Scotland 0-0 Italy, 1 minute
12:31 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Sharp start from Jack Dempsey, catching and shimmying to find Italy a little short on the left, allowing Duhan van der Merwe to go thumping up the touchline.
Scotland soon test Italy’s aerial acumen. A couple of phases later and Italy also look to the skies, with Blair Kinghorn taking with a juggle and launching a useful touch-finder from inside his own 22. Italy’s lineout inside their own half.
Off we go...
12:30 , Harry Latham-Coyle
The best part of seven hours of almost non-stop rugby ahead of us - are you ready?
Paolo Garbisi is the opening act on this Super Saturday. The Italy fly-half has the ball, Angus Gardner blows his whistle, and Scotland vs Italy is underway!
Scotland vs Italy - Match Officials
12:28 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Referee: Angus Gardner (Aus)
ARs: Matthew Carley (Eng) & Craig Evans (Wal)
TMO: Brett Cronan (Aus)
Flower of Scotland
12:28 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Ben Healy delivers what I believe is his first on-field rendition of “Flower of Scotland” - the Ireland-born fly-half qualifies through his Scottish mother, and this will be a mighty proud day for the whole Healy family.
Typically delightful from the Murrayfield chorus.
Scotland vs Italy - Il Canto degli Italiani
12:26 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Much of the Italian squad claps their right fist across their heart. Danilo Fischetti closes his eyes and lifts his chin, a melodious delivering of the notes, before opening the eyelids and his mouth to roar out the final crescendo.
Scotland vs Italy
12:25 , Harry Latham-Coyle
This final Saturday is always a test of endurance - three high-class contests back-to-back-to-back, with seven anthem singings to be delivered during the day, too.
Italy’s crowd-pleaser will kick us off.
Scotland vs Italy
12:24 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Out of the tunnel come the players, ready for their final fully competitive international fixture before the autumn’s World Cup. Jamie Ritchie asnd Michele Lamaro, pillars of solidity in the back row, lead the lines, faces fixed in focus.
Scotland vs Italy
12:19 , Harry Latham-Coyle
The absent Stuart Hogg has been snared by the BBC today for some pitchside punditry, revealing that the expected recovery for his ankle injury is about four to six weeks. This is the first time Scotland have started a Six Nations game without Finn Russell and Hogg in more than a decade - the rest of the Scottish backline has performed very well during this tournament but it is a significant test.
Sione Tuipulotu, by the way, has been rewarded for his excellent tournament with the vice-captaincy. I’m looking forward to seeing he and Huw Jones spar with Tommaso Menoncello and Juan Ignacio Brex.
Kieran Crowley hopes Italy can replicate Wales win
12:13 , Harry Latham-Coyle
“I’d like to think so,” the Italy head coach chuckles when asked if his side can repeat their final-day heroics of last year. “It’s a different tournament and a different team. We weren’t good enough last week in our execution. We’ve focussed on that this week.
“We’ve taken the mindset that we’ve got to be a little bit better each week. Hopefully if we The more you get in those positions and the more you succeed in those positions, the better you are. We haven’t had that yet.”
Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend speaks to the BBC
12:11 , Harry Latham-Coyle
“It’s all in the performance today. It is our last game of the Six Nations and we have put a lot of work into this championship to get our best ever performance. That’s what the goal is today.
“We are very wary. They were close to beating Ireland and France, they move the ball from everywhere. They have nothing to lose. At this stage last year they went to Cardiff and played a great game, and won that game. We need to make sure we impose our game on Italy.”
— Scottish Rugby (@Scotlandteam) March 18, 2023
Jamie Ritchie demands big finish as Scotland aim for third place in Six Nations
12:10 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Back-to-back defeats by France, ranked second in the world, and the top-ranked Ireland mean Scotland can no longer claim silverware from a tournament that started with wins over England and Wales.
But Ritchie feels there is still plenty at stake going into Saturday’s campaign finale at BT Murrayfield as Gregor Townsend’s side bid to make it three wins out of five and finish third for the first time since 2018.
“I outlined our goal of five good performances and I think we’re at three and a half just now,” said the captain. “To get it up to four and a half would be good so we’re looking for a strong performance. To secure that third place outright would be a positive.”
Look to the looseheads
12:07 , Harry Latham-Coyle
If you were asked to pick out two of the most quietly impressive performers of this Six Nations, then today’s looseheads would probably come quickly to the mind. Both Pierre Schoeman and Danilo Fischetti have stood out in the loose and tight throughout this tournament, continuing to grow their burgeoning international reputations.
They are different sorts of props, Schoeman broader of shoulder with Fischetti more of a bustler, but each possesses plenty of punch in the carry and offers a live breakdown threat. Quietly, the number one shirt is filled by a lot of high quality performers across this championship – Cyril Baille has been back to somewhere near his best in the last couple of weeks, Ellis Genge has led the way in England’s best moments and Andrew Porter has been a cornerstone amid Ireland’s front row chaos.
Simone Gesi gets a shot on the wing
12:02 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Struggling with Ange Capuozzo withdrawal symptoms? May I introduce you to Simone Gesi, making his international bow for Italy and offering much of the same diminutive danger as his absent potential future back three colleague. The Zebre wing is a couple of inches taller and two years younger than Capuozzo but is explosive and elusive in much the same way, with a fierce fend adding to his threat.
He still has a little way to go defensively and aerially, but Gesi has been carving up defences in the United Rugby Championship this year. His inclusion on the wing is another sign of Kieran Crowley’s commitment to playing an exciting brand of rugby. Italy created plenty of chances against Wales but snatched at them a little, but there is little indication they’ll at all temper their attacking verve.
— Six Nations Under-20s (@SixNationsU20) March 16, 2023
11:58 , Harry Latham-Coyle
The key decision for Gregor Townsend this week would have been where best to slot Blair Kinghorn into his side. Townsend likes the Edinburgh man’s potential as an international fly-half, but the 26-year-old was a little disappointing at the position during his autumn opportunities and has been very good off the bench in the back three during this campaign.
Townsend is down three fly-halves, really, with both Adam Hastings and Ross Thompson also currently unavailable, but the Scotland head coach suggested this week he would have had no qualms with starting Ben Healy. Recruiting the Munster fly-half away from the Irish system feels like a bit of a coup for Scottish rugby, with Healy already offering a developed sense of game control. But he has not been in Townsend’s set-up for long, with limited opportunities to run alongside the rest of an impressive backline, so for now it is Kinghorn’s show.
“We’ve seen him train and how well he’s stepped up as first receiver,” Townsend said of his chosen fly-half. “His session last Wednesday, when Finn didn’t train at all, was outstanding. I believe now, with how we are playing, it will suit Blair even more. He has the defence focused on the people outside which will open up opportunities for him.”
Team News - Italy
11:54 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Italy’s worst performance of the Six Nations does prompt some changes from Kieran Crowley, though the New Zealander largely keeps faith with the side that disappointed against Wales. Up front, Marco Riccioni and Edoardo Iachizzi are promoted to start at tighthead and in the second row respectively.
Behind the scrum, there’s a new scrum half in the form of Alessandro Fusco, while the rather exciting Zebre wing Simone Gesi is set to make his debut after an impressive URC season. Another potential debutant is replacement hooker Marco Manredi, while Alessandro Garbisi could form a half-back partnership with elder brother Paolo for the first time this Six Nations if used from the bench.
Italy XV: Danilo Fischetti, Giacomo Nicotera, Marco Riccioni; Edoardo Iachizzi, Federico Ruzza; Sebastian Negri, Michele Lamaro (capt.), Lorenzo Cannone; Alessandro Fusco, Paolo Garbisi; Simone Gesi, Tommaso Menoncello, Juan Ignacio Brex, Pierre Bruno; Tommaso Allan.
Replacements: Marco Manfredi, Federico Zani, Pietro Ceccarelli, Niccolo Cannone, Giovanni Pettinelli, Manuel Zuliani; Alessandro Garbisi, Luca Morisi.
Il Commissario Tecnico Kieran #Crowley ha scelto il XV in campo per l'incontro con la 🏴@SixNationsRugby ➡️ https://t.co/l4LgKD20My
📍 Murrayfield Stadium, Edimburgo
🏉 Sabato 18/3 kick off 13.30 (ITA)
📺 @SkySport @nowtvit ▪ @tv8 pic.twitter.com/EkFamjA9Qt
— Italrugby (@Federugby) March 16, 2023
Team News - Scotland
11:52 , Harry Latham-Coyle
A long and gruelling tournament has taken a significant toll on the Scottish squad, shorn of three key pillars for this final game. Finn Russell, Stuart Hogg and Richie Gray all miss this final encounter.
Without Russell and Hogg, a place for Blair Kinghorn in the starting side was a certainty, and it is at fly-half that Gregor Townsend elects to install the long-striding back, who has impressed off the bench throughout this campaign. That allows a place for Ollie Smith in the back three, while Sam Skinner and Hamish Watson start in the forwards.
Edinburgh-bound, Tipperary-born playmaker Ben Healy is primed for a debut off the bench, offering Townsend more of a controlling fly-half option, while Ewan Ashman, Rory Sutherland and Cameron Redpath return to the fold among the replacements.
Scotland XV: Pierre Schoeman, George Turner, Zander Fagerson; Sam Skinner, Jonny Gray; Jamie Ritchie (capt.), Hamish Watson, Jack Dempsey; Ben White, Blair Kinghorn; Duhan van der Merwe, Sione Tuipulotu, Huw Jones, Kyle Steyn; Ollie Smith.
Replacements: Ewan Ashman, Rory Sutherland, WP Nel, Scott Cummings, Matt Fagerson; Ali Price, Ben Healy, Cameron Redpath.
— Scottish Rugby (@Scotlandteam) March 16, 2023
Six Nations Super Saturday: Scotland vs Italy
11:49 , Harry Latham-Coyle
But we’ll deal with all the title permutations more fully a bit later, because there is rapidly-approaching business to attend to in Edinburgh. After a disappointing showing against Wales, Italy have one last shot at a 2023 Six Nations win, while Scotland will be keen to finish with a flourish and hold on to third spot in the table.
Kick-off is less than 45 minutes away - let’s check in on the two teams...
Six Nations Super Saturday: Title permutations
11:46 , Harry Latham-Coyle
An Ireland win will, of course, seal Andy Farrell’s men a championship they would richly deserve, but we do technically still have a title fight on our hands. France’s drubbing of England last weekend, and Ireland’s failure to earn a bonus point at Murrayfield, leaves last year’s winners four points back in the table, ready to pounce on any unlikely Irish slip-up this evening.
— Guinness Six Nations (@SixNationsRugby) March 13, 2023
Six Nations Super Saturday: Prospect of Irish Grand Slam should leave England green with envy
11:42 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Yes, we’ve made it, one final day of men’s Six Nations action for 2023, the action crammed in to one Super Saturday. Italy are in Edinburgh and Wales re-acquainting themselves with Paris, but all eyes are on Dublin, where things have worked out rather nicely for Ireland...
Six Nations Super Saturday
11:30 , Luke Baker
Welcome to The Independent’s live coverage of the finale to the 2023 Six Nations.
Super Saturday has rolled around once more and by 7pm we’ll know whether Ireland have claimed just a fourth grand slam - and the first sealed at home - in their history. Only an England team in disarray stand in their way.
Before that, Scotland take on Italy and Wales travel to France as the 2023 championship reaches its conclusion.
Stick with us for full live coverage across the day