SCOTLAND’s improved away form under head coach Philip Doyle has led hooker Lana Skeldon to believe they can upset the odds and win in Italy on Sunday.

The Scots have beaten South Africa twice on the road as well as winning in Spain since Doyle took over last year - a record that is better than their home one. They lost narrowly in Ireland in the first round of this year’s Six Nations before suffering a predictably heavy defeat by England at Murrayfield, but Skeldon believes that a complete performance is only a matter of time.

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“I think it is a massive opportunity for us this weekend to really show that each game we're improving and we're doing the things we're setting out to do,” the 26-year-old said. “I think this weekend is the ideal opportunity to put all those things together - really put the final piece of the puzzle in place and get the result that we want.

“Nowadays we just treat every game the same. Previously we've struggled away from home because there's not that much support out there, but we have a lot of travelling support now and that makes a difference.”

The losses to Ireland and England have extended Scotland’s losing run to eight in the Championship, but they should arguably have won the first of those games rather than losing 18-14. “We were disappointed not to win in Ireland, but performance-wise we put down a marker,” Skeldon continued. “Against England it wasn’t perfect, but there were things to take forward and we're moving into this third game ready to put all the pieces of the puzzle together and get the result we're looking for.”

Scotland have lost their last three games to the Italians, one at Scotstoun last year and two in Italy in 2018. But Skeldon was in the team the year before that when they won 14-12 at Broadwood, and is sure that since then the squad has matured both individually and collectively.

“They were difficult games,” she said of those defeats. “But we still learnt things from them and I think now we're in a much better mindset to take on any challenge that is thrown at us. We're very prepared nowadays.

“I think as individuals we're all improving - and collectively, when you put that all together, that's why we're starting to shape into a pretty good outfit now. So each individual is getting better and with the support we get everything is a lot further along the chain than it was.”

Doyle will announce his team today for Sunday’s match, which takes place in Legnano, just outside Milan