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Scotland 25-13 Italy: Hosts begin Rugby World Cup preparations with win at Murrayfield

Scotland beat Italy at Murrayfield in their first Rugby World Cup warm-up Test of the summer, scoring tries through wing Darcy Graham (two) and back-row Josh Bayliss; Monty Ioane scored for Italy in defeat; The 2023 Rugby World Cup begins in France in September

darcy graham
Image: Darcy Graham scored twice on his return for Scotland, as they beat Italy at Murrayfield in their first RWC warm-up Test

Darcy Graham marked his return to the international fold with a double as an experimental Scotland side defeated Italy 25-13 in Saturday's World Cup warm-up match at Murrayfield.

The 26-year-old Edinburgh wing missed the entire Six Nations with a knee injury but - after scoring a hat-trick in his last match for the Scots against Argentina in November - he picked up where he left off with a couple of clinical touchdowns to put the Azzurri to the sword.

Replacement Josh Bayliss sealed the victory with the Scots' third try off the last play of the match after Monty Ioane's score just after the hour had given the Italians hope.

Graham was one of the few established starters in Gregor Townsend's line-up as he allowed several of his key players the weekend off ahead of the upcoming double-header against World Cup hosts France.

Glasgow centre Stafford McDowall was given his international debut while Glasgow prop Murphy Walker and Edinburgh fly-half Ben Healy - both previously capped - made their first starts.

Scotland led Italy 5-0 midway through the first half, after the Azzurri made a promising start and had the hosts penned in their own half in the opening minutes.

The Scots made the breakthrough in the 13th minute when Edinburgh wing Graham - making his first international appearance since the autumn after recovering from injury - had an easy touchdown after being picked out wide on the right by a perfectly-executed cross kick from Healy.

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Edinburgh stand-off Healy was wide with the conversion attempt.

However, Italy edged into a 6-5 half-time lead after a couple of penalties from Tommaso Allan. The first came in the 26th minute when the Harlequins fly-half - whose father is Scottish - clipped over from close-range.

And in the last action of the first half, Allan sent another kick soaring between the posts from inside Scotland's 10-metre line.

Scotland then made a strong start to the second half to open up a 15-6 lead over their visitors at the hour mark, first edging themselves back in front with a Healy penalty in the 48th minute.

Graham put daylight between the teams with his second try of the match when he received a reverse pass from Ali Price and bounded over the line. Healy was accurate with the conversion.

Italy got back into the match just after the hour, however, when Ioane went over on the left after a lovely pass from Allan, who duly converted.

Leicester lock Cam Henderson became the second Scotland debutant of the afternoon when he replaced Scott Cummings and the hosts regained control when Healy kicked another penalty in the 74th minute.

The Scots then finished on a high note, with substitute Bayliss scoring his first international try - converted by the impressive Healy - in the last action of the match.

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