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Sunday 17 December 2017

One day we will win Six Nations – Parisse

Simon Turnbull

To the Roman Empire, it was the final frontier, the country that couldn't be conquered. They managed to build a wall between the Firth of Clyde and the Firth of Forth, but were pushed back from Caledonia to the southern side of Hadrian's defensive construction.

In the grand scheme of things, it might not be of great significance if the 15 men in the Azzurri battle­dress manage to emerge victorious from their 80-minute skirmish in the west end of Edinburgh this afternoon. In the context of international rugby, however, an Italian win would be something of a landmark achievement.

Italy have prevailed at Murrayfield before. Back in 2007, they plundered three tries and 21 points in the opening six minutes and when the final whistle confirmed a 37-17 success, Alessandro Troncon and his team paraded around the pitch wearing pirate hats.

It remains the only Italian win on the road in the Six Nations. They have not even been able to back up one-off home victories before. Indeed, only in that 2007 competition, when they also put Wales to the sword in Rome, have they won more than one match in a Six Nations campaign.

This afternoon they line up in the Scottish capital with a 2013 win already in the bag, thanks to that stunning 23-18 triumph against the pre-championship favourites France in Rome on the opening weekend.

If Sergio Parisse and his side can follow up with a winning blow to a Scotland team beaten 38-18 at Twickenham, then the prospect of a first ever challenge for the title will suddenly open up for them. Next up will be Wales at home.

"Success for us is trying to get more than one victory," Parisse, the Azzurri's talismanic No 8 and captain, said. "We have only done that once. But one day I want to see us compete to win this competition..."

Scotland – S Hogg; S Maitland, S Lamont, M Scott, T Visser; R Jackson, G Laidlaw; R Grant, R Ford, E Murray, R Gray, J Hamilton, R Harley, K Brown (capt), J Beattie (Montpellier). Reps: P MacArthur, M Low, G Cross, A Kellock, D Denton, H Pyrgos, D Weir, M Evans.

Italy – A Masi; G Venditti, T Benvenuti, G Canale, L McLean; L Orquera, T Botes; A Lo Cicero, L Ghiraldini, M Castrogiovanni, Q Geldenhuys, F Minto, A Zanni, S Favaro, S Parisse (capt). Reps: D Giazzon, A De Marchi, L Cittadini, A Pavanello, P Derbyshire, E Gori, K Burton, G Garcia.

Scotland v Italy

Live, RTE 2 & BBC 1, 2.0

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