Scotland captain Stuart Hogg voiced high praise for scrum-half Ali Price, who marked his 50th international appearance with a man-of-the-match performance in his team’s bonus point win over Italy in Rome. 

Price had several significant contributions, most notably the interception on his own line which triggered Scotland’s length-of-the-park second try, which was a pivotal moment in the match. 

“Ali did that for a reason – he shot out the line and made it happen,” said Hogg. ”We talked a lot about our work-rate back and our hussle to make it incredibly difficult for the Italians.  

“Ali’s made the decision to go for it and what a decision it was. That’s what we’re about. The boys work incredibly hard for each other and have licence to make those raids and go for the big plays. 

“I thought Ali was absolutely outstanding for the whole time he was on the field. He was a livewire and kept the carrot in front of the donkey in terms of his kicking game. He asked a lot of questions of the Italian defence with his running game as well. 

“For him to win his 50th cap, I’m incredibly proud of him and to put in a performance like that was absolutely tremendous and I’m really, really pleased for Ali.” 

Hogg added that he was quietly pleased with his own performance after a tough couple of weeks when he has struggled to hit his own high standards and has been – perhaps unfairly – castigated for it in the press and on social media. 

“I just wanted to go out there and express myself and do a job for the team,” he reflected. “A lot has been said about my individual performances of late but it doesn't really bother me. I'm just working hard to make sure I contribute towards a team victory. 

“We wanted to come out here and give a true reflection of ourselves and make sure we gave a professional performance,” he added. “For large parts of that game, we did exactly that but unfortunately we had a lapse in concentration every now and then that resulted in Italy scoring points, which we're quite frustrated about. But, on the whole, it was pleasing to come away with a victory.” 

Despite Scotland struggling to click as an attacking force for much of the match, they did manage to score five well-taken tries away from, which is a commendable achievement in any international match – although Hogg acknowledged that his team will have to work harder for their points next weekend against Ireland. 

“It gives us confidence that we can score tries from anywhere, but we scored on the back of counter-attack and quick ball, and it was only really Darcy Graham’s try that went through multi-phase,” he reflected. 

“Ideally, we’d like to be in a position to go through multi-phase and have a bit more of a clinical edge, but we were put under pressure at times.  

“We talked a lot about doing the simple things well but we were off our feet at the ruck a few times and there were a few jackal turnovers against us. These are things we want to tighten up on and be squeaky clean, because that would allow us to get more momentum and really get into our multi-phase attack. 

“We knew what their defensive triggers were going to be and fortunately we managed to pick up on those and really exploit them,” he added. “We talked about relieving pressure and applying as much pressure to the Italian side as we possibly could through our kicking game and a couple of the tries were built on the back of doing that, creating counter-attack ball.  

“That’s where we got our change from and we’re very pleased. But we demand a lot more from ourselves and try to keep teams down to as few points as we possibly can. Italy got back into it and put us under pressure and there are a couple of things we’ll look back at where we let ourselves down slightly. But overall, [we’re] very pleased.” 

Meanwhile, winger Kyle Steyn explained that while a sharp attack will be key in Dublin next weekend, defence will be key if the team are to secure a famous victory. 

‘We’ll back ourselves to take chances when they arise, but the biggest thing is we’ll be fronting up on is D,” he said. “We’ll be ready to go there and front up.”