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February 03, 2019

Sam Johnson on song for Scotland

Posted by Editor on February 3, 2019 02:01 PM | No comments | Print | E-mail author

Sam Johnson made and impressive debut
Scotland opened their Six Nations campaign with a 33-20 win over Italy at Murrayfield.

Gregor Townsend's men created a number of chances in the first-half but could only convert two of them as Blair Kinghorn crossed the whitewash twice.

Tommaso Allan had given the Azzurri the lead but that was as good as it got for the visitors in the first three quarters of the encounter. They were outplayed and the Scots secured the bonus-point through Stuart Hogg and Kinghorn, who went over for his third.

It seemed a case of how many the hosts would score but they could only add one more before the end of the game when Chris Harris touched down.

Instead, Italy finished the stronger and were rewarded through scores from Guglielmo Palazzani, Edoardo Padovani and Angelo Esposito, but they succumbed to their 11th successive Six Nations defeat under Conor OShea

Kinghorn's treble gave him the man-of-the-match award but a strong case could be made for Sam Johnson who made his Scotland debut at centre.

Australia-born Johnson - who qualifies through residency rules following four years at Scotstoun - put in an assured display as he took the step up to the international game in his stride.

The Glasgow centre was cheered on by his parents, sister and niece after they jetted in from Queensland to catch his big moment.

"I'm pretty happy," said the 25-year-old. "The opportunity has finally arrived and it was a privilege to finally run out there in front of everyone and sing the national anthem.

"I was more nervous about singing the karaoke after the match. I was definitely sweating about that. It's a bit of an initiation ritual but it should be fun.

"As for the game, getting an early touch always helps you settle into the game and to express yourself.

"That's the first cap out the way, now we'll go again this week and see what happens.

"Did I feel comfortable from the start? I think that's probably an age thing. If it was me when I first came here I'd have been pooing my pants.

"But when you get older and a bit more experienced you try to take your opportunities in your stride, so that's what I did."

The challenge will be far greater when Ireland make the trip to Edinburgh next weekend looking to get back on track after Saturday's loss to England.

"Ireland are second in the world, so next week will definitely be a big step up," admitted Johnson. "I get a big kick out of these challenges though.

"The atmosphere from the crowd will help the team. It will be a 67,000 sell-out again against Ireland, I'd never dreamed of playing in front of a crowd so big.

"When we look back on the last 10 minutes of yesterday's game, we're probably going to get a kick up the bum from our defence coach Matt Taylor. We're definitely going to have to fix that up or else Ireland will make us pay even more.

"But we can't fear anyone here. Having that home support screaming out will be key. I've never experienced anything like yesterday. It sent tingles down the spine.

"We're here to win the title. It's obviously not going to be easy but if we can get up over Ireland then confidence will be high. We"ll see how we go."