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Talking points ahead of Scotland's Six Nations clash with Italy

:Headline: Talking points ahead of Scotland's Six Nations clash with Italy:
The sides face each other in Rome on Saturday.

Scotland take on Italy at the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday hoping to pick up their first win of this year’s Guinness Six Nations.

Here PA’s Andy Newport takes a look at the big talking points ahead of the Rome clash.

Townsend under pressure

Scotland’s head coach Gregor Townsend is under pressure to get a win (Steven Paston/PA)

The Scotland coach faced questions over his future in the role after his side’s early World Cup exit in Japan but things have hardly improved so far this year following defeats to Ireland and England. The Finn Russell row has placed Gregor Townsend under even greater scrutiny but a win in Rome would relieve some of the stress from his shoulders.

Hogg’s spill ride

New captain Stuart Hogg asked to be given the responsibility of leadership before the tournament kicked-off but so far he appears to be struggling with the weight of the armband. The star full-back blew a certain try in Dublin when he dropped the ball on the tryline while another slip led to England’s winning touchdown. But he took more care to plant down while scoring for club side Exeter against Gloucester last weekend and will now be hoping to make amends for his national side in the Eternal City.

Cummings in command

Scotland’s Scott Cummings, centre, could be a key man against Italy (David Davies/PA)

The loss of maverick playmaker Russell following his bust-up with Townsend has been blamed for the Dark Blues’ lack of creativity in the opposition 22 during their opening two Tests. But the hand injury which has ruled out Jonny Gray could yet turn out to be an even bigger blow to Scotland. The Glasgow lock is a tackle-machine who regularly clocks up ridiculous figures in the collision stakes. His Warriors team-mate Scott Cummings, 23, will now have to shoulder the responsibility of calling a line-out which stuttered badly against England last time out.

Azzurri’s awful run

Italy are have gone five years since their last Six Nations win against the Scots at Murrayfield. Their miserable run has continued so far this year but while they slumped heavily in their opener against Wales, there were signs of progress under interim coach Franco Smith against tournament favourites France two weeks ago as they scored three times in a 35-22 defeat. As ever, they will be gunning for the Scots as they eye their best hope of snatching a long awaited win.

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Premier League Table
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Liverpool29271166214582
2Manchester CityMan City28183768313757
3Leicester CityLeicester29165858283053
4Chelsea29146951391248
5Manchester UnitedMan Utd29129844301445
6Wolverhampton WanderersWolves29101364134743
7Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd28111073025543
8Tottenham HotspurSpurs29118104740741
9Arsenal2891364036440
10Burnley29116123440-639
11Crystal Palace29109102632-639
12Everton29107123746-937
13Newcastle UnitedNewcastle2998122541-1635
14Southampton29104153552-1734
15Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton29611123240-829
16West Ham UnitedWest Ham2976163550-1527
17Watford2969142744-1727
18Bournemouth2976162947-1827
19Aston Villa2874173456-2225
20Norwich CityNorwich2956182552-2721
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