Saturday 24 March 2018

Scots find try-scoring groove to crush Italy

Scotland 21 Italy 8

Ian Malin at Murrayfield

Scotland, just as they did in Dublin last year, saved their best until last.

Admittedly, this does not say a lot when you have lost your previous four matches in this season's Six Nations, but Andy Robinson's side avoided the wooden spoon with a rousing display in the second half.

Just to add to Robinson's joys Scotland actually scored two tries. When Nick de Luca, a man who, it has to be said, sounds suspiciously Italian, crossed the line six minutes after the break, it was the first time Scotland had scored a try at Murrayfield for 11 hours and 54 minutes.

Just to show it was no fluke Nikki Walker scored another eight minutes later and Scotland, two points down at the interval after a frustrating first half, were out of the woods.

Italy were coming into this final fixture on the back of perhaps the most famous result in their history. Their coach, Nick Mallett, was warning that their expectations should not be too high with his team still ranked 12th in the world, and he was right to be cautious.

Mallett had a smile on his face early on as Andrea Masi repeated his try-scoring feat of last week. Fabio Semenzato dug the ball out of a ruck and Kris Burton and Gonzalo Canale found the full-back haring into the line. Masi cruised past Chris Paterson and Walker to touch down in the corner.

It was Paterson who kept Scotland in touch with two successful penalties and the full-back proved adept at stopping tries, just as he did at Twickenham, with a brave tackle on Paul Derbyshire.

And De Luca soon put the home crowd out of its misery. Nathan Hines peeled off the back of a maul and delivered a smart pass for the centre to plunge joyfully over in the corner. Walker then used his muscle to take a pass from Paterson and batter his way to the line.

Paterson finally put Robinson's side out of reach, nailing a 30-metre penalty to thrill the home fans.

Scorers -- Scotland: N de Luca, N Walker try each; C Paterson con, 3 pens Italy: A Masi try; M Bergamasco pen.

Scotland: C Paterson, N Walker, J Ansbro (N De Luca 18), S Lamont, S Danielli, R Jackson (D Parks 78), R Lawson (M Blair 63), K Brown (R Vernon 73), J Barclay, N Hines (A Strokosch 53), A Kellock, R Gray, G Cross (E Murray 63), R Ford (S Lawson 63), A Jacobsen.

Italy: A Masi (L McLean 31), T Benvenuti, G Canale, A Sgarbi (P Canavosio 69), Mirco Bergamasco, K Burton (L Orquera 58), F Semenzato, S Parisse, P Derbyshire (R Barbieri 59), A Zanni, Q Geldenhuys, CA Del Fava (V Bernabo 53), M Castrogiovanni, L Ghiraldini, S Perugini (A Lo Cicero 58)/

Referee: S Walsh (Australia).

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