Kellock: Italy clash as big as Slam decider
March 15, 2011
Scotland skipper Al Kellock has highlighted the importance of their clash with Italy © PA Photos
Scotland skipper Alastair Kellock has rallied his troops for Saturday's clash with Italy, insisting that the game is every bit as important as England's bid for a Grand Slam in Dublin.
The Scots will attempt to avoid the wooden spoon against an Italy side buoyed by their first Six Nations victory over France and confident of repeating their 2007 Murrayfield win.
Scotland remain winless after defeats to France, Wales and Ireland were followed by last weekend's loss to England at Twickenham, in which they put on a much-improved display only to remain winless in west London since 1983.
Kellock is determined his Scotland side justify the expectation with which they entered the tournament - off the back of five wins in six Tests - and avoid finishing bottom of the pile for a first time since 2007.
"It's a massive game for us, we know that," he said. "We've got to take positives from the England game and use the momentum we've got - even though we were beaten - to push for a top performance that it will take to beat the Italians, especially on the back of the win they've just had.
"England and ourselves have huge weekends this weekend, but unfortunately for us for different reasons."
Italy have beaten Scotland in the Six Nations on five occasions and have won three of the last four between the sides. Kellock does not believe that their win over France changes the landscape however.
"It's been very tight throughout the whole championship. The only game that's gone awry is the Italy-England game and I think that says more about how good England were," he said. "Although it was a surprise you could see it coming. Their defence was very, very good.
"The turnovers they got from France and the territory they got because of that meant that they could go on and win the game. They were forcing France to do things they wouldn't normally do. The Italians are very good and renowned for trying to stop teams playing. We've got to go out there, we've got to control the ball, our set-piece has to be a lot better and play in the right areas, hopefully scoring some tries."
Kellock (foot) was one of 12 Scotland players who required treatment following the match, with back row Kelly Brown the one major doubt for this Saturday's match following a clash with Matt Banahan.
He will continue to be monitored prior to Wednesday's team announcement, but Scotland are optimistic about his fitness. "The early signs are very positive for Kelly figuring against Italy on Saturday," defence coach Graham Steadman said. "Fingers crossed because I think it would be great for Kelly Brown to be a part of it having been one of our most consistent performers in the games to date."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
"The loudest cheer at a rugby game, away from social media gimmicks, pumping music and pyrotechnics will always be for a try." Tom Hamilton on the Twickenham atmosphere
"The only thing that will stop this England team from becoming a great team is themselves. They need to ask themselves 'what can we be?'" The Phil Vickery column
The latest Monday Maul looks at the hectic final weekend, the Lions hangover, the superb Mike Brown and the 'selfie'
"At the crux of this England team is a lack of fear, they are not afraid to throw playbooks out of the window." Tom Hamilton reports from Twickenham