Edinburgh Rugby’s Blair Kinghorn will be eager to take his Six Nations Championship form into the Heineken Champions Cup Round of 16 after scoring a hat-trick of tries in Scotland’s 26-14 victory over Italy at BT Murrayfield on Saturday.
Kinghorn, who contributed 24 points in four games during this season’s pool stage, marked his first game of the year at fly-half with 21 points, adding three conversions to his try treble to warm up in style for Edinburgh’s trip to Leicester Tigers on March 31.
Edinburgh team-mate Duhan van der Merwe had opened Scotland’s account with an athletic, twisting dive in the corner for a 12th minute try, after Harlequins’ Tomasso Allan had given Italy the lead with the first of his two penalties.
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It then became the Kinghorn show for Scotland as the 26-year-old powered through two tacklers to score his first try in the 29th minute, which he also converted to give the hosts a 12-6 interval lead.
The fly-half completed his double three minutes into the second half to round off a period of Scotland pressure and added the extras to push Scotland 19-6 ahead.
However, Allan, who could also be in Round of 16 action in Cape Town against DHL Stormers on April 1, reduced the arrears to 19-11 on 61 minutes by seizing on a grubber kick to touch down in the corner.
A Paolo Garbisi penalty cut the deficit further, but just as Italy sensed a last-gasp win, Kinghorn and Van der Merwe combined sensationally from inside their 22, the giant wing releasing Kinghorn for his third try, which he also improved to cement victory.
At the Stade de France, Ospreys’ George North was one of four try scorers for Wales as they fell to a 41-28 defeat to France, Bradley Roberts, Tomos Williams and Rio Dyer the others to cross in defeat.
Stade Rochelais’ Jonathan Danty and Uini Atonio notched for France in addition to a brace from Damian Penaud and one from Gaël Fickou. Stade Toulousain’s Thomas Ramos kicked 16 points from the tee.