Sunday 17 December 2017

Robinson misery hits new low

Poor finishing has been the story of Italy's season and, in the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday, Scotland could at least be thankful for that.

Had the hosts' dominance in almost every phase of the game been reflected on the scoreboard, had they beaten Scotland to the line as easily as they thrashed them all over the pitch, Andy Robinson's side would have gone down by 40 points. Italy, frankly, let them off the hook.

Whether that will be enough to save Robinson's job is more doubtful. There is only so long that a losing coach can claim he is making progress, and in a run of seven straight defeats, Scotland's worst for 14 years, Robinson passed that point some time ago.

Having also guided Scotland to their first ever pool-stage exit at the World Cup earlier in the season, you have to wonder whether Robinson has the appetite for the job any more.

"I need to go away," he said when he was asked if he was considering his position. "Everything is pretty emotional at the moment. I need to go away and think through what is right with a plan."

For all that Italy toiled to make much of their overwhelming territorial and possession advantages, they did claim the only try of the match, winger Giovambattista Venditti racing over after some efficiently swift recycling by the Italian forwards in the Scots' '22' early in the second half.

At that point, Scotland had been reduced to 14 men as Nick de Luca had been shown a yellow card -- his second of the championship -- just before the break. Jim Hamilton was also sin-binned later in the game for barging in a line-out.

Greig Laidlaw clipped over two penalties to claim all Scotland's points, while Mirco Bergamasco's penalty and conversion, plus a drop-goal by Kris Burton, helped Italy home.

Italy -- A Masi; G Venditti, T Benvenuti, G Canale (G Toniolatti, 68), Mirco Bergamasco; K Burton, E Gori (T Botes 66; S Favaro 71); A lo Cicero (L Cittadini 52), F Ongaro (T D'Apice 56), M Castrogiovanni (A lo Cicero 66), Q Geldenhuys, M Bortolami, A Zanni, R Barbieri (M Vosawai 56), S Parisse (capt).

Scotland -- S Hogg; M Evans, N de Luca, G Morrison, S Lamont; G Laidlaw (R Jackson 69), M Blair; J Welsh, R Ford (capt), G Cross (E Murray 49), R Gray (A Kellock 54), J Hamilton, J Barclay (R Vernon 69), R Rennie, D Denton.

Ref -- A Rolland (Ireland).

Irish Independent

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