Dan Parks staked his claim to win back the Scotland No.10 jersey as they stepped up their World Cup preparations with another solid win, beating Italy 23-12 at Murrayfield on Saturday.
Parks had dropped down the flyhalf pecking order behind rookie Ruaridh Jackson, but a fine all-round display and a volley of pinpoint kicks have surely convinced boss Andy Robinson that he should be the main man in New Zealand next month.
Parks was voted top Scot in the 2007 World Cup - and he showed off his determination to spearhead the national team's challenge again in their victory over Italy.
While the Cardiff Blues flyhalf was underlining his talent, there was agony for Nikki Walker.
With Robinson set to name his World Cup squad on Monday, the Ospreys wing was stretchered off near the end with suspected serious ligament damage and looks certain to be ruled out of contention.
Robinson declared himself "pretty satisfied" with both the Italy victory and the 10-6 win over Ireland two weeks ago.
"Getting the win was the important thing. That fact that we have won both our warm-up matches is a tremendous bonus," Robinson said.
"But we are not the finished article and we know there is still work and hard graft to be done. Italy gave us the physical challenge we were looking for and they played some good rugby," he added.
Italy coach Nick Mallett said: "The result was not the one we were looking for, but there were positives. We gave away a couple of soft tries, which was disappointing. However, I was delighted we were able to score a couple of our own."
Scotland surged straight into attack as Rory Lamont and Richie Vernon combined in a move that took them deep into enemy territory to set up the first penalty chance for Parks. The former Glasgow playmaker made no mistake and confidently found the target with his angled strike.
Scotland continued to earn the bulk of possession and territory, but the good early work was spoiled when they gave away two tame turnovers in quick succession.
They shook off the cobwebs, however, to create a try in the 10th minute. A sequence of accurate and short passes paved the way for Max Evans to release Sale prop Al Dickinson for his first Test try. Parks kicked the extra two points to provide the ideal cushion.
But the enterprising Italians blew the contest wide open as Treviso winger Tomaso Benvenuti sped past Lamont to cruise in for a superb touchdown at the end of a move that was launched on the Azzurri goal-line.
Racing-Metro wing Mirco Bergamasco kicked the conversion from wide on the right to aim an additional warning shot at Scotland.
Parks miscued a drop-goal bid in the dying seconds of the first half, but made swift amends by clipping over his second penalty.
The action continued to be scrappy and disjointed after the restart with the Scots looking increasingly nervy.
It was the Italians who were producing the more attractive and constructive rugby - much to the frustration of the vast majority among the 20,245-strong crowd - and the visitors' endeavour was rewarded in the 48th minute as Treviso scrumhalf Fabio Semenzato scored the second try.
The Scots' fringe defence was markedly absent as the smallest man on the pitch darted through a gap to score from close quarters after a well-controlled pick and drive sequence.
Scotland needed a stroke of good fortune and the vision of vice-captain Mike Blair to ease the jitters.
Andrea Masi fatally delayed his clearance kick, giving Edinburgh scrumhalf Blair the chance to charge it down and win the race for the critical try.
The conversion was a formality for Parks, who stretched the gap to eight points, and two minutes later he thumped over a 40-metre penalty to give the hosts even more breathing space.
Tries: Dickinson, Blair
Cons: Parks 2
Pens: Parks 3
Tries: Benvenuti, Semenzato
Scotland: 15 Rory Lamont, 14 Max Evans, 13 Nick De Luca, 12 Graeme Morrison, 11 Simon Danielli, 10 Dan Parks, 9 Mike Blair, 8 Richie Vernon, 7 John Barclay, 6 Kelly Brown, 5 Alastair Kellock, 4 Nathan Hines, 3 Moray Low, 2 Scott Lawson, 1 Alasdair Dickinson.
Replacements: 16 Dougie Hall, 17 Euan Murray, 18 Richie Gray, 19 Ross Rennie, 20 Chris Cusiter, 21 Ruaridh Jackson, 22 Nikki Walker.
Italy: 15 Andrea Masi, 14 Tommaso Benvenuti, 13 Gonzalo Canale, 12 Gonzalo Garcia, 11 Mirco Bergamasco, 10 Luciano Orquera, 9 Fabio Semenzato, 8 Sergio Parisse (captain), 7 Robert Barbieri, 6 Paul Derbyshire, 5 Cornelius van Zyl, 4 Carlo Antonio Del Fava, 3 Martin Castrogiovanni, 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 1 Andrea Lo Cicero.
Replacements: 16 Tommaso D'Apice, 17 Lorenzo Cittadini, 18 Marco Bortolami, 19 Alessandro Zanni, 20 Pablo Canavosio, 21 Riccardo Bocchino, 22 Matteo Pratichetti.
Referee: Dave Pearson (England)
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