Try hungry Scotland returned to winning ways as they put Italy to the sword in the Six Nations.
The Scots went into the match stung by consecutive defeats to Wales and Ireland and relentlessly attacked an Azzurri side that has not tasted Six Nations victory since 2015.
There were first international tries for Dave Cherry and Scott Steele as Gregor Townsend’s men powered away from the visitors with four tries in either half.
Scotland were scourged by a slow start against Ireland last week and the problem reared its head again as Italy roared out of the traps and scored the opening try through captain Luca Bigi in the seventh minute.
The Azzurri worked a strong maul into the left corner where the hooker crashed over – and fly half Paolo Garbisi nailed the conversion from right out on the touchline.
Scotland obviously found some inspiration from that, as they quickly went for the corner from a penalty themselves.
After one strong maul was infringed by Italy they tried again and hooker Dave Cherry muscled over for his first international try.
Fresh confidence was breathed into the Scots and they attacked from deep to great effect from the restart.
A thrilling break by Huw Jones set the platform and after big gainline carries by Rory Sutherland, Hamish Watson and Zander Fagerson the ball was spun wide for Duhan van der Merwe to finish.
Having been hammered in their previous four games there was a feeling of “nothing to lose” from Italy and they ran hard at the Scots, drawing infringements and coming close to another try. Garbisi opted to kick the points and bring the scoreboard to 12-10.
Federico Mori was sent to the sin bin for a no-arms hit on his opposite number Sam Johnson after 19 minutes and Scotland turned down the easy points in favour of a go at the try line.
The rolling maul was stopped but from the open play Sean Maitland exploited a hole in the defence, fed Jones who offloaded to Darcy Graham to walk over.
The Scots in their white change jerseys saw another opportunity ended in crunching fashion when a looping pass by Johnson to Graham saw the wing crunched in a tackle by Monty Ioane.
But a thrilling counter attack off a high Garbisi kick led to the fourth, bonus point, try.
Van der Merwe sprung the defence on the left wing, he passed inside to Hogg whose quick hands released Jones to speed away from 30 metres out and score under the posts just before the half hour mark.
Scotland took the half time whistle with a 14 point lead and quickly set about extending it when they resumed as a well set maul sent Cherry over for his second score of the day.
Italy’s defence has been a problem for them all spring and they began to get desperate in Scotland’s forays into their 22. Sebastian Negri was yellow carded in the 51st minute for slapping the ball down as Watson threatened close to the try line.
From a resulting scrum the Scots used the man advantage again and Steele sniped off a ruck inside the five metre line to grab his first international try.
Frustrated Italy’s discipline was fraying all over the park and Ioane was next to be sin-binned for a dangerous tip tackle on Hogg.
It was now a matter of how many and how soon. It took to the 66th minute for Sam Johnson to hit a huge line and power over for Scotland’s seventh try.
As they emptied the bench in search of some consolation the Italians were hit with another sucker punch as the ball spilled to Ali Price and the replacement scrum half scampered away before offloading to Van der Merwe to finish an end-to-end counter attack.
It was the final turn on the scoreboard as Scotland secured their biggest winning margin of the Six Nations era. Now they travel to Paris hoping to salvage three wins from the 2021 championship.
Scotland Player Ratings
Sean Maitland 7 – A reliable customer at full back and exploited some holes in the Italian line on his counter-attacks.
Darcy Graham 7 – Footwork caused problems and on hand for yet another Murrayfield try.
Huw Jones 8 – Slithered through the Italian line repeatedly and looked back to his try-hungry best in a Scotland jersey.
Sam Johnson 7 – Took the ball to the line well and a good playmaking option outside Hogg. Hit his line to power across for a try.
Duhan van der Merwe 8 – Relished using his upper body strength to bounce defenders off him. Took his try well and helped set up others.
Stuart Hogg 7 – Not quite a fish out of water but never quite fully comfortable at stand-off either. Got his basics right and no big mistakes.
Scott Steele 7 – Grafted hard to get the ball away quickly and moved the point of attack well. Nabbed a try with a sneaky second half snipe.
Rory Sutherland 7 – Hard edge to his carries as he stood up physically.
Dave Cherry 8 – Accurate darts, big carries and two tries. What more could you ask from a first start for your country?
Zander Fagerson 7 – Physicality in contact a noticeable upgrade for the team on his return from suspension.
Sam Skinner 7 – Looked in tune with the pack as he grabbed his chance at second row.
Grant Gilchrist 7 – Solid and reassuring presence on his return to the team, with the lineout functioning well.
Jamie Ritchie 7 – Showed his footballing skillset with some great hands and distribution alongside his trademark hard work around the tackle area.
Hamish Watson 8 – Can do little wrong right now and was full of huge carries and breakdown menace.
Matt Fagerson 7 – Tough carrying and defence has made the 8 jersey his own this spring and seems to grow in influence by the game.
Replacements 7 – Kept the side ticking in the second half chase for further tries.