Scotland 17 - 37 Italy
Scotland had a nightmare start to their second home game in this season's RBS 6 Nations tournament against Italy at Murrayfield and failed to come back into the game as their own errors cost them dear. Scotland coach Frank Hadden said: "As you can imagine the dressing room's shell-shocked right now. We talked to the players this week about responsibility and I take full responsibility for the fast tempo at the start of the game."
Scotland had a nightmare start to their second home game in this season’s RBS 6 Nations tournament against Italy at Murrayfield and failed to come back into the game as their own errors cost them dear. Scotland coach Frank Hadden said: “As you can imagine the dressing room’s shell-shocked right now. We talked to the players this week about responsibility and I take full responsibility for the fast tempo at the start of the game.”
Italy, led by man of the match Alessandro Troncon, played with passion and ran riot in the opening minutes of the game scoring three easy tries within the first six minutes. While the Italians were buoyed by their good fortune, Scotland struggled to find consistency in their game. Scotland’s points came from a Rob Dewey try and a Chris Paterson try, penalty and two conversions.
Mauro Bergamasco led the Italians’ try blitz in the first minute of the game, charging down a Phil Godman kick to take him straight under the posts. A lucky break some might say, that was until three minutes later when Italian stand off Andrea Scanavacca intercepted Chris Cusiter’s rangey pass to Rob Dewey and again, ran in unopposed under the posts. Two in a row: fluke? As the saying goes, bad news comes in threes and a couple of minutes later, yet another pass was intercepted and snaffled up by Kaine Robertson, who scored the Italian’s third try with only six minutes on the clock.
Scotland captain Chris Paterson said: “Scott Murray just said that was the strangest six minutes of rugby he’s ever experienced.”
Hadden added: “We have to play an expansive game and you have to chip but sadly the execution went pear shaped in the first ten minutes.”
Scanavacca converted all three Italian tries for a 21-0 lead and not even ten minutes played.
Rather than compose themselves and opt to kick for goal and establish themselves on the score board when penalty opportunities arose, Scotland opted to kick for touch in the corner and after errors on the first two attempts - losing their own lineout and some miscommunication here and there - Scotland eventually on their third attempt managed to get the ball to powerful centre Rob Dewey who crossed for the try between the posts.
After a moment of hesitation as to whether referee Donal Courtney (who was the Television match official who allowed Jonny Wilkinson’s 'try' in Scotland’s match against England three weeks earlier) had actually stopped play and called the players back or not (as happened to Dewey a fortnight ago against Wales), the players realised that play was still active and Dewey touched down. Chris Paterson converted.
Hadden added: “When you go 21-0 down, it’s hard to claw that back in 3 point stages. They [kicking for the corner rather than going for goal] were difficult decisions to make and I fully support those decisions. Yes, we wanted the scoreboard to keep ticking over but we also wanted to win the game.”
Scotland continued to look stunned by Italy’s opening try sequence and struggled to find continuity in their game, allowing too many errors to creep into their play: missed passes, dropped balls and not using the space available, while Italy used those opportunities to pile the pressure on and played the game up in Scotland’s faces.
In defence, Scotland looked markedly different from their game a fortnight ago against Wales. While they took the game to the Welsh, they allowed the Italians to come towards them rather than closing them down. The Azzurri relished the space they were given and their vocal fans certainly made themselves heard.
To add to Scotland’s woes, Simon Taylor was sin binned for slowing the ball down and Scanavacca added to the Italians’ point with another penalty.
When Scotland were going forward in attack, the Italian defence was ferocious while, when Scotland were defending, the Italians’ attack was equally fiery - one driving maul approaching the half hour mark was particularly impressive and the Azzurri pack practically ran up the midfield.
Scotland perked up in the second half and some individual sparks added light to Scotland’s attack. Hugo Southwell had a promising solo break but was called back for the forward pass. Chris Cusiter had a smart quick tap penalty and substitute Allister Hogg had a lovely chip and chase but these moments were never strung together to enable the Scots to turn them into points and too often the home side just didn’t take care of the ball in their possession.
It was not until captain Chris Paterson took the pass from scrum half Cusiter, saw the space ahead of him and set off for the Italian line with a pacey dash, that the Scots narrowed the gap to within one score as Paterson’s conversion of his own try brought the score to 17-24 with three quarters of the game gone.
However, Italy headed straight back up the other end of the pitch, kicked two penalties and comprehensively sealed the game with a try from talismanic scrum half Troncon.
Scotland’s last attempt to salvage some points and make the final scoreline somewhat more respectable was to no avail and an ecstatic Italian team celebrated a first, and deserved, away 6 Nations win.
0-5: Mauro Bergamasco try (1min)
0-7: Andrea Scanavacca conversion
0-12: Andrea Scanavacca try (4mins)
0-14: Andrea Scanavacca conversion
0-19: Kaine Robertson try (6mins)
0-21: Scanavacca conversion
5-21: Rob Dewey try (13 mins)
7-21: Chris Paterson conversion
7-24: Andrea Scanavacca penalty (19 mins)
10-24: Chris Paterson penalty (40 mins)
15-24: Chris Paterson try (60 mins)
17-24: Chris Paterson conversion
17-27: Andrea Scanavacca penalty (66 mins)
17-30: Andrea Scanavacca penalty (71 mins)
17-35: Alessandro Troncon try (74 mins)
17-37: Andrea Scanavacca conversion
Southwell (Edinburgh); Lamont (Northampton), Di Rollo (Edinburgh), Dewey (Edinburgh) (Henderson 76 mins), Paterson (Edinburgh, captain); Godman (Edinburgh) (Walker 58 mins), Cusiter (Border Reivers) (Lawson 67 mins); Kerr (Border Reivers) (Jacobsen 49mins), Hall (Edinburgh) (Ford 58 mins), Murray (Glasgow Warriors) (Jacobsen 38-40 BLOOD), Hines (Perpignan), Murray (Edinburgh) (Hamilton 73 mins), Taylor (Edinburgh), Callam (Edinburgh) (Hogg 49mins), Brown (Border Reivers).
Ford (Border Reivers), Jacobsen (Edinburgh), Hamilton (Leicester), Hogg (Edinburgh), Lawson (Gloucester), Henderson (Glasgow Warriors), Walker (Ospreys).
De Marigny (Calvisano); Robertson (Viadana), Canale (Clermont Auvergne), Mirco Bergamasco (Stade Francais), Masi (Biarritz) (Zaffiri 33 mins); Scanavacca (Calvisano) (Pez 79 mins), Troncon (Clermont Auvergne); Lo Cicero (L'Aquila) (Perugini 58 mins) , Festuccia (Gran Parma) (Ongaro 58 mins), Castrogiovanni (Leicester) (Nieto 17 mins), Dellape (Biarritz) (Bernabo 63 mins), Bortolami (Gloucester, capt), Zanni (Calvisano), Mauro Bergamasco (Stade Francais), Parisse (Stade Francais).
Ongaro (Saracens), Perugini (Toulouse), Nieto (Gloucester), Bernabo (Calvisano), Zaffiri (Calvisano), Griffen (Calvisano), Pez (Bayonne).
Referee: Donal Courtney (IRFU)
RBS Man of the Match: Alessandro Troncon
Attendance: 50, 284.