Preview: Italy v Scotland talking points

Stadio Olimpico in Rome

Scotland round off their Six Nations campaign against Italy in Rome on Saturday. Here, we look at the key talking points ahead of the clash at the Stadio Olimpico.

Finishing on a high

Both sides will be determined to sign off with a win, but for different reasons. For Scotland, it is to ensure that a campaign that started off with so much optimism does not go down as a disappointing flop. Given their displays in the autumn they were expected to provide a challenge for the title. Victories over France and England - their first Calcutta Cup win in a decade - were certainly welcome, but the self-inflicted nature of heavy defeats to Wales and Ireland offered a reminder of the steps they still have to take. Defeat to an Azzurri side who have so far failed to win a point, never mind a game, would be a major dent to Scottish pride. The Italians will be determined to get off the mark at the final time of asking.

End of away-day blues?

Scotland have an extra incentive to target victory in the Eternal City as they look to stub out the questions over their ability to win on the road. The Scots have gone two years without an away victory and their general performance outside of Edinburgh has been lamentable during the Six Nations era. Aside from four wins in Rome, they have managed just two other victories on foreign soil (against Wales in 2002 and Ireland in 2010) but this time they have arrived in the Italian capital as overwhelming favourites. Victory would be expected but nonetheless welcome.

Scotland opt for experience

With next year's World Cup coming over the horizon, Gregor Townsend could have used this weekend's Test as an opportunity to blood some fresh talent, as Wales did when they made 10 changes to their starting line-up for last weekend's 38-14 triumph over the Italians in Cardiff. However, given Scotland's troubles away from home, the Dark Blues head coach decided to go for a line-up consisting of proven campaigners. By recalling Tommy Seymour, Nick Grigg, Tim Swinson, Fraser Brown and WP Nel for Blair Kinghorn, Pete Horne, Grant Gilchrist, Stuart McInally and Simon Berghan he has added 51 caps to the side, with a total 534 appearances over the 15 starters. Townsend will hope that build-up nous is enough to get the job done.

Parisse's unwanted century

Should Italy lose again on Saturday, captain Sergio Parisse will taste Test defeat for the 100th time in his career. That will be an unfortunate statistic to bear for a player who has given so much to both his country and the sport in general. It is testament to the giant number eight's tenacity that even when his team-mates fail to match his imperious heights he never allows the nagging disappointment to sap his own enthusiasm for representing Italy.

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