Scotland vs Italy, Sat, 28/02/2015 - 14:30

Scotland
19 - 22
Full time
Italy
Saturday, 28 February, 2015 - 14:30 | Murrayfield

 

Scotland succumbed to a hugely disappointing defeat to Italy at BT Murrayfield for the second time since the Azzurri were welcomed to the RBS 6 Nations Championship this afternoon.

The “get out of jail” cards that Scotland had applied to win the last two encounters at the death against Italy – in Pretoria in 2013 and in Rome last year – were nowhere to be found today and the upbeat transition from rich promise that had featured, in parts, against France and Wales earlier this month and even from a 10-0 home lead today after seven minutes just simply did not happen.

Instead, in a finale which was grim and stomach-churning in its predictability, it was Italy with uncompromising defence and their well-engineered driving maul that turned the screw on Scotland.

Head coach Vern Cotter acknowledged that Scotland were architects of their own downfall.

We did not control the game as much as we would have liked to. Through that lack of composure and control we put ourselves in difficulty,” he said.

A chance of escape was also spurned. A penalty to Scotland at a defensive scrum five with four minutes to play and a home lead of 19-15... surely the hosts could find a way to see out the game?

Sadly not. Peter Horne’s left-footed penalty to the right touchline did not find its target and Italy countered and won a breakdown penalty. To touch, a driving maul from the lineout, Scotland pinged and debutant Ben Toolis yellow carded.

Another lineout and, eventually, as Italy committed numbers galore to the maul, Scotland were adjudged to have thwarted the drive over illegally.

Another new cap, Hamish Watson, was yellow-carded and the referee awarded a penalty try. Tommy Allan, once of Scotland age-grade ranks, kicked the conversion to rub salt into aching Scottish wounds, and that was that. 

Incredulity and hurt in equal measure for the vast majority of the record 62,188 crowd that had thronged to BT Murrayfield in such high expectation of a home success.

And the early indications had been positive. Greig Laidlaw kicked a penalty after just 20 seconds and Mark Bennett intercepted a pass from Italian stand-off Kelly Haimona that was destined for Sergio Parisse, to race home from near half-way for his first try for Scotland.

Laidlaw converted and Scotland had that 10-0 lead and were ahead of the clock.

We’ve seen Italy dominate arm-wrestles against Scotland in the recent years and the vigour with which Scotland looked to go about their early business, putting pressure on Italian defensive clearances indicated a desire to up the tempo.

And yet in the tenth minute from George Biagi’s catch at the front of an Italian lineout and then a surging driving maul, his fellow lock Josh Furno was propelled over the line for the first Italian try.

As Scotland worked a decent penalty with a Tommy Seymour break from Horne’s prompt off Jonny Gray at the lineout, Laidlaw’s accuracy extended the lead to 13-5.

Maddeningly, however, the restart wasn’t collected, the ball ballooned forward and there was one of those Keystone Cops offside as a Scotland player handled the ball.

Haimona goaled, a cheap three points for which Italy did not have to expend any creativity.

An offside penalty in the 26th minute saw Laidlaw nudge Scotland back to an eight points’ gap but the closing stages of the first-half were not clever watching for the home support.

Two successive scrum penalties against the home pack, saw Haimona line up for goal from the second. His strike came off the posts and Italian left winger Giovanbattista Venditti reacted quickest, using all of his 6ft 2ins frame to climb and collect the ball before forcing it against the post protector to satisfy TMO Graham Hughes that a try could be awarded. Haimona converted and the “bounce of the ball” and “lady luck” that have rarely visited BT Murrayfield, did so, but not quite in the guise we would have wanted.

Half-time: Scotland 16-15 Italy

You sensed that Scotland needed to get the scoreboard moving at the start of the second-half if we were not to endure another of these all-too-fraught finales against Italy.

Again, it didn’t happen. Tommy Allan, who had joined proceedings for Haimona in the 43rd minute, missed a relatively straight forward penalty for Italy from 45 metres in the 51st minute but the game was devoid of fizz and was turning into one of those forward battles that was more to the visitors’ liking.

Into the last quarter and a hint of a breakthrough as Sean Lamont sent Stuart Hogg racing clear... only to be recalled, correctly as it transpired, for a forward pass.

Scotland huffed and puffed and their endeavour did win a 65th minute penalty from Laidlaw but 19-15 didn’t feel the most convincing of leads and, as we know now it was not.

Scotland now have a fortnight to prepare for the Calcutta Cup match against England at Twickenham where they have not won since 1983.  Italy will welcome France to Rome and will be buoyant.

Half-time: Scotland (16) 19-22 (15) Italy

Scotland: Stuart Hogg; Tommy Seymour, Mark Bennett, Alex Dunbar, Sean Lamont; Peter Horne (all Glasgow Warriors), Greig Laidlaw (Gloucester) CAPTAIN; Alasdair Dickinson, Ross Ford (both Edinburgh Rugby), Euan Murray, Tim Swinson, Jonny Gray, Rob Harley (all Glasgow Warriors), Blair Cowan (London Irish), Johnnie Beattie (Castres).  Substitutes: Hamish Watson (Edinburgh Rugby) for Beattie (50 mins), Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors) for Ford (65 mins), Ryan Grant (Glasgow Warriors) for Dickinson and Matt Scott (Edinburgh Rugby) for Bennett (both 66 mins), Ben Toolis (Edinburgh Rugby) for Swinson (69 mins), Geoff Cross (London Irish) for Murray and Sam Hidalgo-Clyne (Edinburgh Rugby) for Laidlaw (both 74 mins), Greig Tonks (Edinburgh Rugby) for Horne (78 mins).

Italy: Luke McLean; Michele Visentin, Luca Morisi, Enrico Bacchin, Giovanbattista Venditti; Kelly Haimona, Edoardo Gori; Matias Aguero, Leonardo Ghiraldini, Dario Chistolini, George Biagi, Josh Furno, Francesco Minto, Simone Favaro, Sergio Parisse CAPTAIN.  Substitutes: Tommy Allan for Haimona (43 mins), Alberto de Marchi for Aguero and Lorenzo Cittadini for Chistolini (both 56 mins), Samuela Vunisa for Favaro (61 mins), Andrea Manini for Ghiraldinia and Marco Fuser for Biagi (both 66 mins) and Giulio Bisegni for Venditti (69 mins).

Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)

RBS Man of the Match: Luke McLean (Italy)

Team lineups

Scotland
Italy

Backs

15 Luke McLean
14 Michele Visentin
13 Luca Morisi
12 Enrico Bacchin
11 Giovambattista Venditti
10 Kelly Haimona
9 Edoardo Gori

Forwards

1 Matias Aguero
2 Leonardo Ghiraldini
3 Dario Chistolini
4 George Biagi
5 Joshua Furno
6 Francesco Minto
7 Simone Favaro
8 Sergio Parisse

Substitutes

16 Andrea Manici
17 Alberto De Marchi
18 Lorenzo Cittadini
19 Marco Fuser
20 Samuela Vunisa
21 Guglielmo Palazzani
22 Tomaso Allan
23 Giulio Bisegni
Attendance: 
62 188
Man of the match: 
Luke McLean

RBS 6 Nations Championship 2015 table

PosTeamPWLDPts
1Ireland54108
2England54108
3Wales54108
4France52304
5Italy51402
6Scotland50500

RBS 6 Nations Championship 2015 latest results

England 55 v 35 France
Scotland 10 v 40 Ireland
Italy 20 v 61 Wales
Italy 0 v 29 France
England 25 v 13 Scotland