SCOTLAND wing Sean Maitland enjoyed an “awesome’’ home debut as he set up one of his team’s four tries against Italy in the RBS 6 Nations – and then declared their emphatic win was just the beginning for Scott Johnson’s team.
Maitland set up Matt Scott with some penetrating running about 30 metres out before the centre ran clear for his first Scotland try and his team’s second in a 34-10 triumph.
Scotland bounced back in convincing fashion from their poor opening defeat by England and Maitland was delighted to make his first international at Murrayfield a memorable experience after his Scotland debut ended in disappointment at Twickenham.
The New Zealand-born back said: “The boys in the changing room are over the moon. For 80 minutes we showed what we can do as a team.
“It’s just the beginning for us, there is definitely a lot more potential to unleash.
“We had a lot of things to prove as a team to Scotland and thankfully the team was given another chance to put on the jersey again this week and we repaid the coaches.
“It was time for action. We had talked a lot but we delivered.’’ The 24-year-old scored a try on his debut in London and helped Scotland streak clear in the opening stages of the second half when he fed Scott.
Tim Visser had finished off a good move on the half-hour mark to grab the only try of a first half Scotland controlled.
Breakaway tries from Stuart Hogg, who ran almost 90 metres following an interception, and Sean Lamont saw the Scots open up a 31-point lead, with Greig Laidlaw kicking brilliantly, before Alessandro Vanni notched a late consolation as Italy finally got behind a strong and committed Scottish defence following a scrum.
Scotland now face Ireland and Wales at Murrayfield and Johnson declared they were right in the mix for the championship after the game.
Maitland said: ‘‘I always knew Test rugby was going to be a higher level. It’s been a wonderful experience so far and hopefully just the beginning.
‘‘I didn’t have many opportunities but when I got my hands on the ball I had a go and tested the defensive line.
‘‘Matt ran a beautiful line outside me and I managed to find him and he finished it off well.
‘‘There is a lot of potential in the back line and it just showed we can score tries from anywhere.
“We have got to take a lot of confidence out of that.”