All in all, Scotland’s transition from Vern Cotter to Gregor Townsend could hardly have been more seamless against Italy in sweaty Singapore.
Most of their scoring was done in 10 minutes spell either side of half-time, and there were spells when the oppressive heat of even an air conditioned stadium in South East Asia meant the game between two European sides lacked a little tempo.
But the Scots ticked nearly every box in their 34-13 win. It wasn’t the strongest Italian side – weaker than the team Scotland “nilled” in March in Cotter’s final game – but they were properly outclassed as they should have been.
You’d hope and expect that the majority of Glasgow players in the tour squad would be on Townsend’s wavelength, but it was just as encouraging that so many of the “strangers” were as well.
Ben Toolis, who I thought deserved to play the last Six Nations game against Italy, was outstanding in all phases. Duncan Taylor looked excellent at full back. WP Nel made an excellent return, Ross Ford – thought an odd selection – rumbled around, did his lineouts and scored two tries, doubling his total from his 108 caps.
Scotland also showed ambition, kicking most penalties to touch, even tapping one under the posts, and running the ball from deep in first half red time for a splendid try by Tim Visser.
Finn Russell had a lot to do with that one, and was twice a link in the orgy of offloading that led to Ford’s second score.
Might he get the Lions call from New Zealand? One would hope not, as it would only be as a midweek player, and he’s much better off leading Scotland’s attacking play.
But even without Laidlaw, Hogg, Seymour, Huw Jones, Maitland and both Grays Scotland looked very good indeed.
The Wallabies, who crushed Fiji in Melbourne, are a different proposition and proper judgement has to be suspended until after the visit to Sydney next Saturday. But the upward progress seems to be continuing.