Autumn Nations Cup: Stuart Hogg reveals Gregor Townsend’s telling-off fired up Scotland

Stuart Hogg revealed it took a half-time telling off from Gregor Townsend for Scotland to come out firing and defeat Italy in Florence.

The Scots made it five straight wins for only the second time in the professional era as they opened their Autumn Nations Cup campaign with a 28-17 win over Italy.

Matteo Minozzi’s stunning try capped off a brilliant first-half display from Franco Smith’s side as they led 11-7 but the game swung in Scotland’s favour after Townsend told his team they were not working hard enough to stop their hosts dominating the breakdown.

FULL-TIME | It's a bonus-point win for Scotland in Florence and five wins from five!#ITAvSCO #AsOne pic.twitter.com/nTVHia625b

“We didn’t really turn up for the first half,” full-back Hogg said. “It was a bit disappointing but we got there in the end, which we’re chuffed to bits with.

“Gregor touched on the fact we weren’t working hard enough [at half-time] and as players that hurts us. I was pretty annoyed that Gregor had to say that.

“It gave us the kick up the backside we needed. I said to the boys at half-time that nobody questions our work-rate or our physicality again. We turned that around in the second half and got the result.”

Italian points dried up after the break and the visitors – who grabbed the opening try through Duhan Van Der Merwe – were able to see out victory with further scores from Zander Fagerson, Scott Cummings and George Turner.

Head coach Townsend may have had to use the hairdryer treatment at the break, but he was full of praise for the way his team turned the game around.

“I’m sure the belief helped the togetherness of the team,” Townsend, who will now look to become the first Scottish boss in 30 years to mastermind six consecutive wins when they host France next weekend, said.

“The determination to win saw us up the intensity around the breakdown. We were slow to a couple of breakdowns in the first half that cost us penalties but that was much better in the second half.

“Was it a ragged win? Yeah that’s probably right but that seems to be the case a lot when we come over to Italy.

Was it a ragged win? Yeah that’s probably right but that seems to be the case a lot when we come over to Italy.

Gregor Townsend

“But we still managed to get a bonus-point win against top opposition who played well so we’re delighted to start off the tournament with maximum points – but there are obviously some areas to improve.”

However, Townsend fears Rory Sutherland is a doubt for their next match against France after the prop was forced off with an ankle injury. He does hope to have Jamie Ritchie back after he had to leave the field due to a head injury though.

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