Italy condemn Scots to wooden spoon

Italy beat Scotland


The home side were by far the better team throughout, with the Scots having little of the ball and even less of the few attacking opportunities on offer in an error-strewn encounter at the Stadio Olimpico.

The scoreline underplayed Italy's dominance as they earned a first victory under new coach Jacques Brunel to avoid the wooden spoon for the first time in five years.

Scotland coach Robinson and his assistants - particularly backs coach Gregor Townsend - will surely come under intense pressure, however, as they have now lost seven consecutive matches, their worst run of results since 1998.

The match kicked off in stunning sunny conditions in Rome, but from the outset the standard of rugby failed to match the beautiful weather. Both sides continually made errors, losing lineouts, dropping the ball and conceding turnovers throughout.

Yet of the two teams it was Italy who were by far the better side in the first half, with Italy full-back Andrea Masi particularly effective and almost breaking the Scotland defensive line on several occasions.

The Italian forwards also dominated the loose, winning plenty of ball that was too often undermined by fly-half Kris Burton standing ludicrously deep.

The pressure did translate into penalties, however, and only a combination of Mirco Bergamasco's wayward kicking - he landed just one of three in the first 40 minutes - and Greig Laidlaw's outstanding penalty from the half-way line stopped the home side going in at half time with a healthy lead.

Scotland centre Nick De Luca made sure that the hosts came out with a renewed spring in their step, however: just before half-time he idiotically kicked the ball out of scrum-half Edoardo Gori's hands to earn himself a spell in the sin bin.

And the home side used that one-man advantage brilliantly, throwing everything at their guests as they recycled patiently in the Scotland 22m, probing for the chance.

That came when Kris Burton saw the chance to pop up a pass for Venditti, the centre's speed and brilliant line allowing him to run straight over Stuart Hogg on his way to touching down under the posts.

That try was no less than the home side deserved, and they looked like going further ahead when Jim Hamilton was sin binned for pulling down a maul with 25 minutes left.

The Scots dug in, however, determined not to fall farther behind - and they even closed the gap a few minutes later as Alessandro Zanni was sent off for the same offence just outside the 22m.

But Scotland created no pressure to add to that score, and as the match entered the final 10 minutes Italy restored their seven-point advantage with a deftly-taken Burton drop goal.

Scotland, well beaten by now, failed to even get into the Italian 22m except when kicking for touch from a penalty, and the home side finished off a win that was far more comfortable than the scoreline suggested.

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